Chihuahua vs Muffin

By Blake Laufer

Author’s Note:  I was fortunate to present at the recent CPA Virtual Conference on the topic of AI, data, and video analytics in parking. As a result of that presentation I was asked to expand on the topic for an article.

According to professor Pedro Domingo at the University of Washington:  “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world… but the real problem is that computers are too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”

Parking managers recognize the need to have data for decision-making. When meeting with colleagues or bosses every decision needs to be supported by charts and graphs and data to garner support. The good old days management by intuition and experience are gone.

Computing systems, and especially those we find in parking operations, are wonderful at collecting massive quantities of raw data. But raw data isn’t useful to the typical parking manager; the data needs to be converted into information before it is useful.

Raw data is a raw material like iron ore, while processed data is like finished metal, something that can be used for productive ends.

Artificial intelligence comes in a variety of forms including natural language processing (“OK Google…”), making recommendations such as what to purchase on Amazon or what to watch on Netflix, and even predictive analytics (hurricane forecasting).

In parking there is one type of AI that we encounter the most, machine learning.

Machine learning is an application of pattern matching. That is, if you show the computer enough patterns then it becomes able to detect and predict that pattern in new data that it has never seen. A simple pattern may only need 10 or 20 inputs before the machine starts to recognize it. A complex pattern…

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