Parking technology is in its renaissance. The days of the graffiti covered cash drop stations and coin-fed meters are slowly coming to an end. Customers want to pay by credit card and expect a text message when their meter is about to expire. These new technologies have alleviated many parking revenue loss leaders, but they have also created nightmare scenarios where the operator is left with no data and a false sense of security.
Most of the parking technological advances have been available for the last 5 to 10 years, but many operations have resisted this change altogether. You can still see million dollar garages with out-of-order ticket machines and a sleeping cashier displaying handwritten CASH ONLY sign taped to the glass. As an owner, this is not only killing your bottom line, it’s sending your customers to the garage next door with bright LED signs telling them how many spaces are available on each level in real time. Where would you rather park?
Here are a few advances in parking technology that can improve your parking operations profitability:
Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID)
RFID enables you to operate an unattended parking barrier with controlled parking access privileges. By using RFID technology, you can issue parking passes, like windshield type tags, or RFID cards that are specific to the user. These passes can be controlled to determine the type and time of access permitted and can be activated and deactivated remotely by the operator.
RFID offers a turnkey solution for parking operators that require the ability to monitor and record not only access and exit to parking facilities but also log and bill back-parking charges by customer. This solution is ideal for operators that have a subscribed-base of users that pay on an annual, monthly, weekly, daily or per stay basis. You can now monitor the peak utilization of your parking facility and recover costs based on actual usage by your customers.
Pay-by-Cell is used in unattended surface parking lots. Customers scan a QR code located on the meter with their smartphone which will connect them to a payment processing portal that will allow them to pay for parking by phone. Customers don’t have to worry about coin or cash availability and they can extend their parking remotely. Pay-by Cell increases fee collection by 70% in some case comparison studies.
License Plate Recognition (LPR)
LPR is used to automatically identify the vehicle, driver, and license plate data. The system is installed at the parking garage entrance, automating the license plate number capturing and tagging process. LPR systems can be integrated with a valet system, which includes digital cameras, self-serve request kiosks, and point-of-sale terminals. In addition, the LPR system automatically takes a series of images from all sides of the vehicle, and stores the license plate information into its archive. If a customer files a damage claim, the car's photos are retrieved from the system to verify a claim.
Parking Guidance System (PGS)
A PGS helps mitigate traffic congestion associated with parking, while simultaneously boosting the structure's bottom line and creating happy drivers. A PGS works to alleviate congestion by quickly and efficiently guiding drivers to the first available parking space. No more circling aisles or aimlessly guessing which structure has an available space. They accomplish this with individual bay monitoring that can accurately alert space availability to drivers on signs from as far out as the freeway. A PGS will guide drivers to the structure, level, and aisle with available space, ultimately highlighting open spots with a green light illuminated above the parking bay.
Applications for PGS are endless, whether you are an airport trying to maximize occupancy, a university looking to reduce carbon emissions, or a mall looking to minimize the time shoppers spend in the parking lot so you can maximize their time in the stores.
Automated garage systems allow vehicles to be stored without human intervention and allow for much greater vehicle density within a parking facility. They take up roughly half the space of a conventional parking garage; automated parking brings value to real estate development projects by allowing more space for cars to be parked. In an automated garage, even if there is only one space available, customers just drive into the central loading area and park.
There is no need for customers to drive up and down ramps searching for a space, nor does your customer have to remember where they parked their car. Upon returning, the customer enters a code and the car is delivered and ready to drive away in less time than if they walked to their car and navigated back down the ramps of the garage. It’s like valet service with no labor costs. Automated garages are twice as efficient as a typical self-park ramp garage and they consume substantially less space, preserving more room for street level retail or open space to make for a more attractive development.