By Renee Smith
The Canadian Parking Association and its membership have always been supportive of students and young parking professionals trying to make their way into the industry. To remain strong, we must continue to support bright and inventive ideas by fostering the success and growth of emerging individuals—not just for those who want to join our industry. For those who want to redefine it.
Over the years, our industry has managed to keep up with the growing needs of our users. Our developments have had an extraordinary impact on the lives of Canadians and the communities where we live. New parking-planning approaches are improving the quality of life in our cities and promoting business development by giving us safer and more user-friendly parking facilities. Nowhere has the transformation of our industry been more apparent than in the growth of parking’s technology sector.
Today we take for granted technologies that yesterday seemed unimaginable. It wasn’t so long ago, for example, that most parkade transactions were made in cash and collected by cashiers at exit kiosks. Cars often piled up in exiting queues and theft was a nagging concern for parkade owners. Now, with tap payments becoming ubiquitous, most facilities have automated systems that can process credit cards. Exiting queues are not yet a thing of the past, but they are less frequent and shorter when they do occur.
Of course, it’s not just payment equipment that’s changing the face of the industry. Who could have foreseen mobile payment apps and parking guidance technology just a generation ago? The demand for tech-savvy parking infrastructure will only increase as advances in Smart Cities and smart-vehicles evolve. Inevitably, technology will dominate the industry for coming generations. We need to make sure that when self-driving vehicles are ready, parking technology, from advanced access & revenue control systems to parking guidance equipment, is too.
That’s why it’s so important for us, as industry leaders, to support the next generation of parking leaders. That starts with organizational and industry-wide professional development programming designed to help young parking professionals thrive. At the same time, we must also work to attract the best and brightest technology professionals to our industry in the first place.
The good news is that technology is in the DNA of young people today. Not only does that give them the enthusiasm and skills needed to develop new parking technologies, it also gives them a unique outlook on parking—one that’s greatly influenced by technology. They don’t just view technology as a tool for improving parking; they view technology and parking as being intertwined. Going forward, this will be where the next generation of parking breakthroughs will come from.
CPA is already extremely generous when it comes to supporting students and has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships over the years. But it’s just as important for companies and institutions in our industry to step up to support bright young minds and help create the next generation of parking professionals. When we do, we won’t just be promoting the parking industry as a whole. We’ll be helping our own organizations as well.ν
Renee Smith is president and chief technology officer of Parking BOXX, a leading parking system provider. Parking BOXX recently awarded the company’s inaugural Parking Solutions Scholarship for Technical Innovation in Parking Solutions to Patience Lo, a design student at the University of New South Wales. Ms. Smith can be reached at email@example.com.