Stall-Based Monitoring, the Key to Progressive Urban Parking Solutions

By Ryan Hickey

For many cities and municipalities, parking is at the center of their decision-making these days, whether it is from a revenue, usage patterns (current and future) or an operations perspective. As we move towards getting back to a new normal in 2021, the issues that were impacting the parking experience prior to COVID-19 are sure to resurface, perhaps with a slightly different appearance.

All too often, there was, and still is,  a negative experience related to urban parking, with the majority of community members believing that parking resources are not meeting their needs. This perception is fueled by the length of time it can take citizens to find an available parking stall and is frequently used as the main metric for gauging whether a region has an efficient and sufficient supply of parking. When finding a possible solution, cities and municipalities must consider a large number of variables while planning out parking zones, including budgets, land use, and the overall community experience. Overall, this process becomes extremely overwhelming and can be exacerbated by inaccurate parking data supplied by outdated or inaccurate methods.

Urban planners face a variety of challenges in collecting reliable and accurate parking data to improve overall parking user experiences. Presently, many decision makers are unable to form concrete plans towards improving their parking, due to a lack of real-time data availability, and ever-changing parking behaviours driven by COVID-19. At a time when most individuals are working from home, it could be questioned whether there is a need for increased parking. In some areas of North America, it was noted that parking levels were at an all-time low, as citizens were encouraged to stay home and reduce unnecessary travel. For example, sensor data collected within Stratford, Ontario demonstrated a significant decrease…

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Everywhere at Once: Virtualizing the Customer Experience

By Adamo Donatucci

Like any industry heavily reliant on technology, the urban mobility marketplace continues to evolve with advances in available and emergent technologies. Today, it is common for owners and operators to use technology to engage their customers virtually while retaining an element of personalized interaction.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, the healthcare industry has proven to be a fascinating case study in the application of advanced parking technology to support the vertical’s broader goals of increasing staff and patient safety while simultaneously reducing hospitals’ and clinics’ capital and operating costs.

Virtualization of the customer experience was driven initially by market preferences for technology-forward service solutions that generated value for parking operators by reducing overall expenses without sacrificing the high level of service that draws traffic to their facility. While this remains an important consideration today, the COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated efforts to provide the services people need at a distance that keeps them safe.

Early efforts to virtualize the customer experience centered around providing lower-cost alternatives to on-site staffing by directing intercom calls from an attendant’s desk to an off-site monitoring station to save on staffing costs. Today’s technology gives parking operators the flexibility to deploy AI-driven kiosks that assist users to navigate large and complex facilities; in some deployments, this includes turn-by-turn directions back to their car based on the license plate number they enter.

With a greater-than-ever demand for touchless access solutions, parking operators are developing new systems that let users interact with the equipment without ever coming into contact with it; some suppliers have even found ways of integrating gestures to activate ticket dispensing and are leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy technology for permitted access. And just arriving on the market are technology integrations that begin the virtual customer experience before drivers…

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Data is the Key to Modernizing Curbside Management

By Adam Wenneman

The curbside is one of the most poorly understood parts of the municipal right-of-way. On the one hand, it’s a huge piece of municipal infrastructure that is essential to the urban transportation landscape, supporting billion-dollar industries like goods movement and ride sharing. On the other, it is a scarce – and diminishing – resource whose management principles remain rooted in 20th century technologies.

In a time where curbside uses are growing to include expanded patios, dedicated courier loading zones, and other temporary uses, cities need to leverage innovations in collecting, managing, and sharing curb data to improve the efficiency of operations at the curbside.

The Curbside is a Critical Municipal Asset

The curbside is a major piece of infrastructure for every municipality. Across Canada, on-street parking represents upwards of 20% of a city’s total parking supply1. In some cities, like Saskatoon or St John’s, on-street parking constitutes almost all of the downtown parking supply. In downtown Hamilton alone, there is room for over 1,100 parking spaces at the curbside – that’s an area equivalent to the size of ten NHL-sized ice rinks. Efficient operation of this space is an important factor in a city’s ability to support the future of urban mobility.

Despite its considerable supply, the curbside remains a limited and scarce resource at a time where demand for curb space is at an all-time high. The curbside is a limited resource in that its supply cannot grow substantially in urban areas with well-defined built environments and road networks. At the same time, cities are beginning to repurpose the curbside and even entire roadways for alternative uses like active transportation, outdoor dining, and shared community space2. Make no mistake – increasing the amount of green, livable space in a city can have major…

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