How to Increase the Accuracy of Your Campus Parking Availability Information

cost-effective smart parking solutions for universities and colleges

I have sometimes thought of the modern [U.S.] university as a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.  – Clark Kerr, former President of the University of California

If you manage parking operations at a college or university, you want to help students and faculty find open spots safely and efficiently so they can get to class on time. Unfortunately, it often feels as if the cards are stacked against you.

Adding more parking structures can be cost-prohibitive and won’t necessarily solve the availability problem. Parking occupancy levels can vary from structure to structure due to class schedules, campus events, traffic, weather conditions and many other factors.

Oftentimes, the total number of parking spaces is adequate to handle demand, but availability varies by location depending on the time of day, the day of the week, campus events and other factors. If there’s no system to share real-time availability information, parkers won’t know where to look.

Perhaps you have an availability system that is inaccurate, or the information needed to quickly guide parkers is inadequate. Perhaps you have multiple parking systems that don’t communicate with each because they’re technologically incompatible, outdated or both. Or like many universities, you have no system at all.

If your university relies on performing manual counts to understand inventory, you know this isn’t the most practical solution nor is it giving you real-time availability counts. The right parking system automates the process so you don’t have to do manual counting.

Inadequate Parking Availability Hurts Your School’s Image…

You can’t keep inadequate parking availability a secret. One college visit can be all it takes for parking hassles to discourage a prospective applicant or teaching candidate. Students and faculty may be habitually late for class, which hurts productivity and leads to reduced student engagement and teachers’ job satisfaction. Problems compound when would-be parkers create congestion in lots, garages and roads. Congestion caused by vehicles circling for parking has a negative impact on air quality, which hurts your institution’s Earth-friendly image.

…and Your Pocketbook

Games may be under-attended because spectators would rather not deal with parking hassles. Special events can be a nightmare for campus personnel and police directing traffic.  Hundreds of cars descending on campus can cause endless queues at parking areas or parking illegally.

While parking tickets can be a source of funding for colleges, they don’t fix the underlying parking issues. Some individuals will even accept parking tickets because they care more about getting to class or work on time. But they’re not happy about it and that affects both student and employee satisfaction and retention.

Optimize with Real-time Availability Data

The answer to your campus parking problems is not building more spaces, changing the parking rules or handing out more fines. It’s about optimizing the utilization of the spaces you already have, and to do that, you must have highly accurate, real-time parking availability data from all your garages, lots and on-street parking in one central place. With insight into your total parking inventory, you can stop the circling cars, ease congestion, guide parkers into spaces faster and get them to their destinations on time. And most important of all doesn’t cost a fortune.

With real-time availability data you can:

  • Understand space availability (including premium or restricted spaces) by location, zone, level or individual space
  • Send availability information immediately to variable message signs around campus and at parking entrances
  • Share availability in real time with students, faculty and visitors on your campus app, website and social media
  • Direct parking traffic efficiently at orientations, graduations, alumni and parent weekends, football games and other highly attended events
  • Spot trends by location or overall, such as changes in demand, unexpected occupancy spikes, and understand the impact of class schedules, seasonality and other factors
  • Make smart, money-saving decisions based on accurate data when it comes to building, renovating or expanding parking
  • Move toward predictive parking availability

Successfully addressing campus parking availability issues doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you’d like a simplified, highly accurate smart parking solution that works with the systems you already use, talk to us.