Trends and Innovations in the Parking Industry - Fall 2016 Report

October 2nd, 2016

It's been over a week since we attended the National Parking Association's annual Convention & Expo in Atlanta, and we're still feeling inspired! It might surprise those outside the biz, but the parking industry is in fact a hotbed of exciting innovations, from gadgets that enhance customers' experiences to efficiencies that help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Here are just a few of the latest developments in the world of parking that make us so excited about this "space!"

A Better Way to Find a Parking Space

Trying to find a spot in a parking garage can feel like being stuck in limbo. Luckily, a camera-based guidance system called Park Assist makes this experience a breeze. In partnership with HUB Parking Technology, the signature of this innovation is LED light-ring indicators that guide drivers in real-time to the nearest open spot, showing whether a space is full or open. Other features include a proprietary Find-Your-Car feature, dynamic pricing to offer travellers premium parking options, license plate recognition technology, and streaming video to monitor spaces and enhance security.

Though it debuted in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in fall 2015, the Park Assist M4 Smart-Sensors solution continues to innovate and gain traction. Just recently the system was chosen for Avanta Gardens, a new high-end retail and office space development in Monterrey, Mexico.

Mobile Pay for Parking is on the Rise

Look out, meters: mobile parking payment apps are coming for you! Data from several cities reveal that mobile payments - led by the major apps PayByPhone, ParkMobile, and Passport  - are quickly becoming as common as meter payments. In some communities, such as Coconut Grove in Miami, the split is 70% mobile - 30% credit card meters (just think how coin-operated meters must be faring these days!). Check out some more juicy tidbits from a wealth of data compiled by Smarking:

  • On average, mobile users pay about 13% more in the aforementioned Coconut Grove
  • East coasters use more mobile payments when compared to parkers in the midwest and west
  • Locations within and nearby universities have higher rates of mobile payment adoption
  • In Aspen, Colorado, locals use more mobile payments than tourists do
  • There is a growing number of “online reservation systems" - such as SpotHero, ParkingPanda, and ParkWhiz - which are another way to pay via the mobile app but are typically used by private garages and lots

All of these trends speak to the convenience and efficiency of mobile payments when it comes to parking!

Two Ways Finding a Parking Spot is Getting Easier

According to some estimates, about one million barrels of oil are burned each day worldwide while people drive hunting for a parking spot, causing 30% of traffic congestion. Thankfully, some new innovations are helping to make this waste a thing of the past.

Traffic data supplier Inrix has partnered with the Google-owned mapping app Waze, agreeing to provide data that will help drivers find a parking spot more quickly. According to Automotive News, "Waze's current parking service is set up to suggest parking lots near a driver's desired location based on reports from other users, providing navigation directly to the lot. The addition of Inrix is expected to significantly expand the database of parking structures." This union of driving and parking services is a natural fit that will deliver more convenience to customers.

Speaking of Google, in an upcoming update to Google Maps, the app will not only be able to direct you to the nearest parking lot or garage, but also tell you how difficult it will be to park near your destination. BGR explained, "The feature can be very helpful if you’re driving to places you’ve never visited before. Google will tell you that parking in the area is easy, medium, or hard... It’s likely the feature only offers a measure of how many parking spots are available in a particular area, but that’s still great insight for drivers who hate hunting for parking."

NPA 2016 Innovation Awards Winners

Of course, there are the individuals and organizations that were recognized at the NPA Awards Luncheon during the convention in Atlanta! “The NPA Innovation Awards recognize companies and individuals who demonstrate the highest professionalism and parking best practices while using leadership and state-of-the-art technology to improve safety, sustainability, and bottom line results,” said NPA president Christine Banning, CAE.

  • NPA Innovator of the Year: Reginald Randolph, general manager, Houston First Corporation. Reginald Randolph oversees Houston’s Theater District Parking Garage, serving more than 2 million customers each year. In order to best serve customers, he led a fully integrated, organization-wide technology upgrade to enhance the parker experience and increase operational efficiency. He also spearheaded the installation of the INDECT parking guidance system as well as 95 two-way cameras in the garage allowing customers to interface with parking staff at the touch of a button.
  • Innovative Organization of the Year: Colorado State University. Colorado State University is experiencing rapid growth in its student and faculty population. To address this issue, the university sought sustainable solutions to decrease congestion and increase efficiency for 1,750 daily parkers. Their methods included a LEED® Gold-designated parking garage, changing from a displayed permit and meter payment model to a virtual model, integrating license plate recognition technology, partnering with ZipCar, and incorporating a mobile payment app into its meter program.
  • Innovative Facility of the Year: City of West Hollywood Automated Garage. The city of West Hollywood built the first fully automated, municipally run parking structure on the West Coast. Powered by a rooftop photovoltaic system, the new 200-space automated parking structure replaced a 68-space surface parking lot and provides a valet-like experience without the costs and risks of valet parking. Through the use of computerized parking storage and retrieval system, more parking spaces are available in a smaller space than in a traditional parking garage.
  • Innovative Sustainability Project of the Year: Pomona College Parking Structure by Watry Design, Claremont, Calif. Watry The college's new parking structure provides sustainable parking for more than 1,600 campus users and features a rooftop lacrosse field, which reduces the heat island effect. Energy-efficient lighting, a solar canopy, and a fully automated lighting system offset energy use by the garage. Through this project, the college not only reclaimed four acres of open space but also decreased energy usage by 20 percent and saved 50,000 gallons of water per week.

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