All Roads Lead to Technology

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According to a new survey released today by the International Parking Institute (IPI), technology, sustainability, revenue-generation, and customer service are the top trends in the parking industry and the things most parking professionals are looking for.

The 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Survey was released at the IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., this morning. It showed that cashless, electronic, and automatic payment systems join apps that provide real-time information about parking rates and availability and wireless sensing devices that help improve traffic management as the top in-demand technologies in the industry.

More than one-third of respondents said that demand for sustainable services is a top trend, and that they’re talking about energy-efficient lighting, parking space guidance systems, automatic payment process, solar panels, renewable energy technology, and systems that accommodate electric vehicles and/or encourage alternative methods of travel. Technologies that help people find parking faster take cars off the road; an estimated 30 percent of people driving around cities at any time are looking for parking, wasting fuel and emitting carbons.

Survey participants also said that convincing urban planners, local governments, and architects to include parking professionals in their early planning processes is a priority; doing that, they said, would help prevent many design problems in final projects. And when asked where parking should be included as a course of study in academic institutions, nearly half of the survey participants said schools of urban study, followed by business or public policy schools.

The full survey can be accessed on IPI’s website.

Get Ready for Google Glasses

Shawn Conrad

Here come Google Glasses, “a pair of computerized eyeglasses that streams data onto the lenses in front of your face,” according to Barbara Ortutay of the Associated Press.

Google’s “Project Glass” could be the most revolutionary advancement since the internet, but also the most dangerous obstacle to safe driving since texting. Map directions and available parking could be displayed inside the lenses, just above a driver’s line of sight. This is not some futuristic project, though reports indicate it’s safe to say they will not be available this year. Google has already given prototypes to a select few and Heads Up Displays (HUD) may be coming to our galaxy faster than you might think.

Here’s a video that helps describe how the glasses would work:

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This would be one of Google’s first adventures in the hardware development. Don’t think Apple is far behind, either. According to a Forbes blog, Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently spotted at the headquarters of gaming behemoth VALVE, and a VALVE blogger indicated “wearable computing” is on the company’s radar screen.

Personally, anything this new, creative and technological is something I find exciting and intriguing. I’m afraid to even think of the implications for intrusive advertising. This new technology may give us a whole new view of the world, literally and figuratively. And if everyone starts wearing internet-enabled eyewear, you can be sure one of the things they will be doing at the same time is parking.

Based on the integration of advanced technology into parking over the past few years, I have no doubt this industry has the collective will, brain power, and vision to maximize whatever hi tech innovation is around the corner. Thoughts?