Maximize your PARCS System Investment with Accurate Vehicle Counts

integrate your PARCS systems

If your organization operates a parking access control system (PARCS) to manage parking inventory and availability, you made a hefty investment. So, it may be disconcerting when you realize your facilities are still losing revenue. Just because you have a PARCS system doesn’t mean you’re getting accurate parking occupancy counts in your garages and lots. And if you don’t know how many open spots you have at any given time, you’re most certainly losing revenue.

The problem with loops

Many parking facilities rely on inductive loops to count vehicles as they enter and exit. Loops are expensive and inconvenient to install and replace – and they’re not always accurate.

  • Before you install a loop, you must have a survey performed on your structure, which takes time and costs money
  • You have to tear up the floor or pavement, which is a mess and causes disruption to your business and to customers
  • Installing loop detectors may shorten the life of your floor surface or pavement
  • Loops go bad, can get damaged by weather or heavy vehicles, and the more wear on the loop, the more inaccurate they are
  • You can’t get accurate level counts because people don’t always stay in one lane, which throws off your numbers


Manual Audits
leakage in your parking facility means you're losing revenue.

When doubtful of occupancy counts, parking operators resort to gate audits and receipt reconciliation to determine their true parking availability. If you’re one of them, you know that manual counting uses up resources, and doesn’t guarantee you’ll get greater accuracy. Or perhaps you’ve purchased a license plate inventory system, adding more expense and tying up personnel. In the end, you have to adjust your counts, which leaves a large question mark looming overhead… Just how many cars are you losing?


Inaccuracy Affects Customer Satisfaction

Without accurate availability counts, you can’t guide customers to open spaces efficiently. With each decision a customer must make to find a suitable parking space, it’s taking longer to park, increasing frustration and decreasing satisfaction.

Leakage

It can be tempting for some employees to pocket parking fees here and there, and without the certainty of the number of vehicles in your facility at any given time, it’s difficult to know just how much revenue is being lost, and on what day or time of day it occurs most. Parking owners also report that their management company’s employees have been known to open exit gates near closing time to let customers out faster. That’s a scary thought —you have no idea who’s leaving or how much revenue is driving through the gates.

Stop Guessing and Increase Your ROI

With an open, SaaS software and LIDAR sensor parking availability and guidance solution, you can have greater than 98% accuracy levels – the highest in the industry.

Better Than Loops

  • Integrates seamlessly with your legacy PARCS and other systems so you increase the ROI on existing equipment
  • Integrates data sets from all your parking systems into one comprehensive dashboard view, so you know exactly what’s going on right this minute
  • The improved accuracy you get from LIDAR sensors means more revenue because you maximize availability and can stem leakage
  • By choosing above-ground sensor equipment, there are no surveys to deal with and no tearing up the infrastructure
  • Because the sensors are mounted on pole or ceiling, they stay out of harm’s way and won’t get damaged

A sensor counting system can activate your gates just as those unsightly loops can, but unlike loops, sensors continue to count vehicles even with the gates up. So next time someone decides to lift the gate to let vehicles out faster, you’ll know when it happened and how many vehicles passed through.


Have the Right-fit Technology for Each Environment

Not every situation calls for parking occupancy counts by individual space. You might need that granular data for your garages, but you may only want zone counts for your parking lot. Find a vendor who will work with you to configure the most cost-effective solution using the appropriate sensors for each environment, floor surface and the indoor/outdoor climate. Discuss the degree of counting specificity you need – by facility, level, zone, row or space. Then choose magnetometers, cameras, radar or ultrasonic depending on need and budget. With an open platform and SaaS software, your vendor should be able to integrate the equipment you want or already have, so your options will be pretty much limitless and you’ll have real-time data for accurate guidance and reporting.

It should be seamless to integrate real-time availability data, with not only your PARCS and other parking systems but with variable signage, indicator bollards and pucks, parking apps, your social media accounts and website, to increase customer satisfaction and revenue.

Rev up your ROI with Open SaaS software and a LIDAR sensor parking availability solution. For information on ATS ParkingCloud availability and guidance solutions, contact us now or visit our webpage.

 

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.

Improve the Parking Experience with an Open-Platform Parking System

We all want to provide a smooth parking experience for our customers, employees, students, shoppers and more. Whether you’re buying one component of a parking availability and guidance solution, outfitting a single lot or garage, or building a system for your entire parking environment, your goal is to solve parking challenges with a system that can handle future needs—not create new issues.

You need a solution that doesn’t require an engineering degree to implement. The system should be flexible, cost-effective and able to disseminate information throughout your diverse infrastructure— lots, garages, street parking. The right solution will meet your high-accuracy needs at a price that will drive value and ROI.

That’s quite a list, but the good news is that the solution is simple: If you want a highly accurate system that delivers a superior parking experience for customers and makes your job easier, you need an open platform parking solution.

 

What is “Open Platform”?

open platform smart parking systems

The key difference between an open platform and a closed system is the ability to connect to different data sources and outputs without having to pay for custom coding to integrate it with your existing systems, new technologies or a specific component from another manufacturer. The open platform has pre-built integrations or toolkits that make this a simple process that the supplier has to worry about, not you. But what does this have to do with the people looking for a convenient place to park?

Lots. (No pun intended.)

Here are five benefits of an open platform parking availability and guidance solution.

 

#1 You can have the most accurate counting solution for each separate component of your parking operation

Most parking operations have a number of different environments in which tracking availability is necessary—garages, lots and street parking, to name the most common—and a variety of applications they want to deploy, such as availability and guidance, access control, safety and reservations. Messaging, mass notifications, custom analytics and integrations with other systems may also be required. The challenge is that there isn’t typically one technology that fits every environment or configuration, and there aren’t any suppliers who cover every possible scenario.

Across it all, you want one “source of truth”: a central system where you can see the availability, utilization, occupancy time, duration and type of parking stay at every structure under your management. This level of efficiency can only happen when you have very high accuracy rates, and without them, you can’t solve your parking problems.

 

#2 Choose the most cost-effective availability and guidance solution across your operation

You have a budget to meet, but the desire to have one system of record for all of your availability data means that you

choose cost-effective and accurate smart parking technology

must make tradeoffs in terms of cost and accuracy—unless you invest in an open platform.

An open platform allows you to integrate the most accurate technology and manage the cost at each location. Perhaps you need availability information at the lot level at Location A, so using one laser or thermal camera at an entrance and exit is sufficient. At Location B, you may require bollards for every space as well as the ability to know the exact number of premium spaces on each level. An open system allows you to choose the right system for each location to optimize costs while at the same time achieving your parking goal. With the right systems in place, you can reduce congestion in your garages, lots and on-street parking locations, so parkers find the best spot, faster and with far less hassle.

 

#3 Future-proof your operation

You invest in a great new system with all the latest technology, only to have it leapfrogged the next year by a more accurate, cost-effective component that would solve your problems but you can’t add it to your system because it doesn’t integrate with your technology. If you have an open platform parking system, you future-proof yourself against obsolescence and keep your options open as new, more accurate and efficient options are introduced.

 

#4 Leverage your current technology investment

You need to be able to adopt future technology improvements as needed, and leverage the investments you’ve already made. Parking hardware can be expensive, and being able to re-tool it into the next generation of parking technology is a benefit when you are looking to add to or upgrade your system. This means the ability to pull in data from your on-premises PARCS or ALPR system for availability, integrating new devices to supplement your existing configurations or devices, and leveraging your signage, apps or website for guidance can all reduce the cost to upgrade and provide you with the most flexible path to introducing new technologies on an ongoing basis. Not only are you saving time and cost, but you’re also increasing efficiency levels while reducing parker stress levels—a win-win situation.

 

smart parking lot#5 Freedom from vendor constraints

End of life issues, price increases, maintenance and other cost issues as equipment ages are ongoing challenges with a closed system. In the event that the vendor doesn’t progress at the pace or with the technology you need as you grow and expand, it can be difficult and expensive to switch. Other issues include hardware purchases and installation, software configuration, custom integration with other systems and the learning curve for your IT and maintenance staff.  These are all  barriers to switching that can be insurmountable.

By selecting an open and interoperable solution, you can select the technology you want with the peace of mind that your investment is protected. You reduce complexity and add flexibility without giving up highly accurate counts across your operation.

 

Conclusion

By creating open solutions for your smart parking system, you can better meet today’s needs as well as tomorrow’s without sacrificing accuracy, efficiency or affordability. This is a win for you, your stakeholders and your customers.

For more on the benefits of open platform smart parking solutions,  download our white paper How to Achieve “Availability Certainty” Using Connected Parking Systems and Real-time Data.

Sharing Traffic Data: How Law Enforcement, Public Works and Municipalities Benefit

 

Public Works Installs SpeedLane Pro Counter Classifier from ATS

 

As towns and cities everywhere become more populated and industry continues to grow, our roads have become more congested, with more residential and commercial vehicles hurrying to get where they’re going. Increased traffic means more delays at some times and more speeding and traffic incidents at others. Though the solutions may be up for debate, one thing is for sure, the state of traffic on our nation’s roads falls under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, public works and local government in some way.

It can lead to the need for more frequent road maintenance, especially in areas with heavy commercial traffic, and traffic studies in others, to address shifts in population and commerce. For law enforcement, increased traffic has traditionally meant more officers assigned to carry out the important, neverending tasks of enforcing traffic speed, managing safety and responding to community concerns about both. For municipalities and public agencies, increased traffic has meant assigning more traffic engineers and other personnel to carry out the important, never-ending tasks associated with managing volume, speed and safety, as well scheduling road maintenance and construction.


Budget Restrictions Call for Creative Traffic Solutions

In today’s economy, cuts and hiring freezes have made it necessary for agencies and municipalities to become more resourceful in order to achieve traffic safety goals and manage risks. One solution lies in approaching the problem from a new perspective—one that leverages the technology with automated traffic data collection and reporting allowing for real-time sharing of data and analytics.


Sharing Data Has Many Benefits

Safer Communities
Sharing current, accurate data within a department and with surrounding agencies forms alliances that profoundly impact the safety and well-being public works departmentof our communities. Traffic intelligence enables coordination between traffic engineers who design roadways, public works departments who manage all the signage and road marking, and police departments who are responsible for traffic calming and enforcement.

For example, if there’s an area that experiences a lot of accidents annually, maybe that’s because the road markings or signs are inadequate, because the speed limit is too high, or because the intersection signal timing is too rapid. There are a number of reasons why those accidents may be occurring that have little to do with policing. Sharing traffic data helps departments lessen their individual burdens and responsibilities of calming traffic, reducing accidents and making roadways safer for the public.

Budgeting and Funding
school zone safety radar speed signCooperation among multiple departments within city and town governments is important as well as mutually beneficial. Spreading the cost of traffic safety equipment and software across two or more budget proposals has a better chance of being approved than if one agency makes the request. Government agencies often notice this trend when applying for grant funding. Many of the high-dollar grants require multiagency participation and that can be difficult when not all agencies share the same mindset or commitment to the partnership. By sharing traffic data with other agencies, partnerships can be formed, and groups can work together toward funding the solutions that benefit everyone.

Agencies can also pool their funds, such as for the purchase of traffic safety equipment that collects data. Recently, the Vienna Town Council in Virginia unanimously approved the purchase of eight portable SpeedAlert signs and Traffic Suite management software from All Traffic Solutions, which town officials will pay for using money from capital-improvement funds and the town’s traffic-engineering operating budget; the remaining portion will come from the Virginia Department of Transportation. “On a per-dollar basis, this might be one of the best expenditures we have,” said Councilmember Pasha Majdi.

LMPD with SpeedAlert radar speed displayATS customer Louisville Metro Police Department recently purchased nine new SpeedAlert trailers, complete with red and blue strobe lights, with funds provided by the Republican Members of the Louisville Metro Council. The radar speed displays upload speed and volume data to the ATS TraffiCloud automatically so the Department can run reports to respond to complaints, understand speed and volume trends and prioritize problem areas that require enforcement. The Department will share report access with the City Council and other elected officials so that they can monitor traffic information themselves.

Identify Problem Areas to Prioritize Enforcement

The ability to pinpoint high-speed areas and when problems are at their worst enables law enforcement to assign officers when and where they can do the most good, conserving resources and traffic equipment. With access to historical and real-time volume data for specific areas, the department of transportation can spot trends, look at ways to reroute traffic, change the timing of lights or make other adjustments to keep traffic moving and incidents at a minimum.

Long-term Planning
Traffic data can help identify what each agency will require in the future in terms of traffic safety and improvements. Analyzing traffic data allows municipalities to identify the locations and severity of traffic congestion and safety issues in the community to see which are trending upward and will require more long-term solutions, such as adding more traffic lanes or signals. Sharing traffic data helps law enforcement enormously in planning and budgeting for new traffic equipment and for resource allocation.

Holistic View of the Future
More and more municipalities are sharing data between agencies so that everyone can benefit from a larger, integrated database that paints a more holistic picture of the future. For example, when DOTs share traffic volume data with law enforcement, they can use that information to assign officers to a particular road during peak congestion hours. The vehicle count and classification data collected for traffic studies is helpful to them as well, for example, in identifying where trucks or motorcycles are most likely to speed through neighborhoods.

The city’s traffic engineers will find count and classification data useful, too. They can use it to determine how long to make turning lanes or to identify where they may need to reroute trucks away from heavy local traffic. Urban planners can use traffic data intelligence to plan new business and shopping districts, parking facilities and residential developments. Intelligent transportation and smart cities initiatives can use the data to build conditional messaging or dynamic traffic routing in real time, using a flexible open platform that integrates with existing equipment and systems. When public agencies share their data, everyone benefits from the combined pool of intelligence it creates.

Adopt a “Data-Analytics” Mindset
As municipalities and law enforcement find themselves continually challenged by the growth in population, commerce and sheer volume of traffic, adopting a data-sharing strategy to traffic management is more critical than ever. By applying a shared “data analytics mindset,” agencies can capitalize on the trends they see taking place. The result is informed decision making that leads to better traffic management and resource utilization, reduced congestion and work zone accidents, improved community relations and safer roads for everyone.

If you would like to simplify and streamline the collection, management and sharing of traffic data in your municipality, we’re here to help.

For more strategies and tips on how to use traffic data to reduce costs, maximize resources and keep your community safe, read our white paper How to Use Data and Analytics to Achieve Your Traffic Management Goals.

Why an Easy Smart Parking System is Better

ParkingCloud smart parking system dashboard All Traffic Solutions

Whether you’re buying one component of your parking availability and guidance solution for a single lot or garage, or building a system for your entire parking operation, you want it all. You want a solution with the highest accuracy levels, that’s easy to install, easy to implement and use, and easy to add on to as your needs change in the future. One that’s flexible enough to cost-effectively instrument and share information throughout your parking infrastructure—, at a price that’s affordable, that doesn’t require an engineering degree to implement, and that demonstrates strong positive ROI for your organization.

That’s a tall order, to be sure.

There are other smart parking “must-haves” as well:

Counting: Real-time availability and occupancy counts on a holistic level

Guidance: Direct parkers to available spaces and premium spots

Data: Having access to real-time and historical availability data provides insight for fast response, tracking and planning

Safety: Keeping parkers, pedestrians and vehicles safe is important for customer satisfaction and crucial to your operation

API: The ability to integrate with all your parking systems in real time is a game changer

 

Easy, affordable and accurate – the holy grail of smart parking solutions?

The quest for a robust yet simple parking system is not out of reach. You just need to know where to look.  ParkingCloud from All Traffic Solutions makes enterprise-grade parking availability and guidance accessible to everyone, regardless of size, type of facility or budget requirements.

  • Device-agnostic – you’re never locked into one vendor’s solution
  • Turnkey – you’re up and running in days, not months
  • Open platform – leverage your existing infrastructure and sensors
  • Real-time – up-to-the-minute data feeds to signs, apps, APIs or websites
  • Simple – everything in one location, accessible from one intuitive dashboard

If you’re fed up with trying to boil the ocean to achieve all that you need in your smart parking system, it’s time to step away from the stove. Easy is better.

For more information on All Traffic Solutions’ innovative smart parking solutions, contact us.

Visit our Smart Parking Solutions page.

Check out ParkingCloud NOW:  the world’s easiest and most accurate parking counting system

A Smart Solution for Real-time Parking Accuracy

 

 

With everyone from commercial operators and municipalities to colleges, universities and airports working to optimize operations, “smart parking” solutions can be a game changer. For parking professionals looking to reduce congestion, circling and emissions, increase customer satisfaction, optimize utilization, build yield-driven pricing strategies, increase safety and improve enforcement, deploying technology-driven solutions that cost-effectively provide real-time benefits opens whole new worlds.  

The Importance of Real-time Parking Accuracy Data

Your parking operation is adversely affected when you don’t have real-time availability data. Manually counting open spaces in your parking garage or on surface lots is ineffective and produces inaccuracies that have many repercussions. Let’s look at why tracking parking occupancy is important and the new parking counting system that gives you real-time parking availability counts with over 98% accuracy levels.

Why is real-time occupancy data so important? With real-time parking availability counts you can:

  • Send availability information to variable message signs in garages, lots and around your city to guide parkers to open spaces faster
  • Utilize historical parking count data to spot trends and anomalies so you can take action
  • Leverage availability data for long-term planning

For example, if you are a town with on-street and off-street parking facilities, you probably have high-volume areas where it’s difficult to find parking. As a result, drivers must circle for open spots, which makes them late for work, unable to shop and conduct business—and that makes drivers and businesses unhappy. Circling and waiting in line also cause congestion on streets and in garages and surface lots. That congestion, in turn, creates traffic problems and safety issues.

A Smart Solution is Plug-and-Play

One solution is to install a ParkTrak plug-and-play counting system from All Traffic Solutions. ParkTrak uses laser technology to precisely count vehicles with over 98% accuracy.  With ParkTrak, you can generate accurate availability counts and send that real-time information to your signs, apps, websites and more. 

 

ParkTrak is better than loops or cameras:

  • Mounts overhead or on a pole—no cutting up the cement, gravel or asphalt
  • Installs in under one day with no interruption to parkers
  • Easy to set up—just mount, point, and set directional ranges for vehicle detection. The audible beep tells you ParkTrak is detecting and ready to go!
  • Uses directional logic to detect tailgating vehicles, back-ups, vehicles entering/exiting the wrong way—even pedestrians, bikes and carts (Loops and cameras can’t do that!)

ParkTrak comes pre-configured for ParkingCloud™ so you have real-time access to data and analytics, including parking usage and availability reports, and can push information to wherever you need it. It can also integrate with other systems you’re already using.

If you would like to learn how ParkTrak can help you optimize your parking availability and guidance solutions, an ATS parking solutions expert is happy to assist you.

 

WATCH THE VIDEO

 

 

Maximize Your Budget with Versatile Traffic Management Devices

VERSATILE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT DEVICES SAVE MONEY

Most organizations are looking to do more with less, but this can be difficult when it comes to something as critical as traffic safety. One way to maximize your traffic management budget and see better results is to employ multi-purpose, web-enabled traffic devices. 

What is a multipurpose traffic device? 

speed trailer variable message sign ALPR
ATS 5 Speed Trailer with ALPR device and SpeedAlert 24 radar message display

A multipurpose traffic device is traffic management or traffic calming equipment, such as a radar message display, vehicle counter classifier or speed trailer, which can be utilized in more than one application.

Here’s an example of an extremely multipurpose radar message display:

Many police departments and departments of public works own radar speed signs that display driver speed as each vehicle passes. Radar speed signs are very useful – All Traffic Solutions makes two sizes of portable radar speed signs that our customers swear by.  But if you want to do more than display driver speeds, but don’t have the budget to purchase different types of signs, then a radar message display is the answer.  These versatile radar signs record and display driver speeds, and you can also program speed-dependent or other messages to display as well. 

For example, when the Blue Honda Civic drives through the school zone at 15 miles per hour, the sign flashes their speed followed by a message to HAVE A NICE DAY.  But when the black Mustang drives through that same school zone going 38 miles per hour, they see not only their speed but a flashing TOO FAST! message as well. Taken a step further, the sign can also be equipped with flashing red and blue lights and an audible alert that sounds to warn students and crossing guards that a speeding vehicle is approaching. These instant, jarring reminders grab drivers’ attention so they slow down fast.

That radar message display can also be utilized as a variable message sign; for example, it can be moved to another road each Saturday to direct drivers to available parking for the high school game. Having radar speed displays that can be used as variable message signs can really stretch the budget.

Versatile SpeedAlert Saves Department Money

In Maryland, the Montgomery County Police Department utilizes ATS SpeedAlert 24 radar message displays on ATS 5 speed trailers both to calm traffic and to share notifications with the public. Because SpeedAlert 24 can also be used as a variable message sign, MCPD no longer needed their old message trailers and were able to reduce their monthly maintenance fees paid to the transportation department by half. “Our old speed trailers were really just window dressing that told drivers how fast they were going,” said Officer John Powell. “We now have dual-purpose speed and message trailers that provide valuable data we can use to clear complaints and calm traffic.”

The department’s seven existing custom speed trailers and seven message trailers were cumbersome to haul from location to location, and though they displayed driver speeds, they did not record speed or volume information and were too large to station on many roads. After seeing all that SpeedAlert 24 web-enabled radar message displays could do for them— such as record accurate speed and volume data and display speed-dependent messages—MCPD purchased six. They also purchased six ATS 5 Trailers for their new signs which, unlike their old trailers, are lightweight and can be maneuvered easily without using a truck. This saves on fuel and maximizes available resources.

StatTrak counter classifier with speed measurement is deployed on a pole in Natick, MA

Web-enabled radar message displays like SpeedAlert can also capture speed data, either while the sign is illuminated or in stealth mode so as to not affect driver behavior as it captures benchmarking data. Law enforcement, departments of transportation and municipalities all use SpeedAlert to run fast speed studies.

Count and Classify… and Measure Speeds

Vehicle counter classifiers can also be multipurpose wonders. In Massachusetts, the Natick Police Department rely on ATS StatTrak roadside counter classifiers’ speed measurement capability to run quick, accurate speed surveys that they can generate in seconds using the TraffiCloud remote traffic management system. StatTrak is installed on the side of the road, away from direct vehicle contact for safety and uninterrupted traffic flow. The speed surveys are used to address speeding complaints, to determine if the department should invest more time and resources into a particular roadway, and since oftentimes the data proves there is no issue, the Natick police can prioritize their resources more effectively.

Speed Trailers Pull Double Duty with ALPR Inside

Since that speed trailer is positioned at the side of the road anyway, why not add a portable automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) system?  Capture license plates to locate vehicle owners who have outstanding arrest warrants or unpaid tickets, cover access points for wanted vehicles or know exactly who’s on your campus. ATS 5 Trailers are available with optional all-in-one ALPR systems that are designed to simplify deployments from specification through installation.

If your agency struggles to make every dollar count, look into multipurpose, resource-saving traffic management devices.

Getting to 99% Accuracy with “Right Fit, Right Technology” Solutions: Part 2: Why Platform Matters

You want the most cost-effective availability and guidance solution across your parking operation

Continuing with the last post, while understanding your parking operation has a variety of needs and environments, you also have a budget to meet. The dizzying variety of options can quickly result in a technology solution that can over-equip you with the wrong sensors or below desired accuracy levels simply because the manufacturer you’re working with is only able to offer a limited technology choice. The desire to have one system of record housing all of your availability data means that you must make trade-offs in terms of cost and accuracy, unless you invest in an open platform instead.

An open platform allows you to not only integrate the most accurate technology, it also allows you to manage the cost to the level of accuracy you require. If you want to provide lot availability information, for example, instead of counting each space using individual sensors (ultrasound or magnetometer, video or camera), you might be able to count “ins and outs” to a zone, using one laser or thermal camera at an entrance and exit, if you don’t need space indicators above every spot. You can use those for your highest value spaces and instead use a bollard or zone guidance sign to optimize costs while at the same time

You need to future-proof yourself

We all know the scenario: you invest in  a great new system with all the latest technology, only to have it leapfrogged the next year by a more accurate, cost-effective component that would solve your problems even better and at a more attractive price point. But you can’t add it onto your system because it doesn’t integrate with your technology. In many areas of business, this has been overcome with the widespread adoption of open or interoperable systems, but in parking availability and guidance, there are few that have the ability to seamlessly add new technology when that “killer app” comes out.  

By leveraging an open platform, you future-proof yourself against obsolescence and keep your options open as new, more accurate, more functional and oftentimes less expensive options are introduced.

It’s best to leverage your current technology

Not only do you need to be able to adopt future technology improvements as needed, you want to retain your ability to leverage the investments you’ve already made. Parking hardware can be expensive, and being able to re-tool it into the next generation of parking technology is a benefit when you are looking to upgrade.

Pulling data from your on-premises PARCS or ALPR system to provide availability, integrating new devices into your technology stack that supplement your existing configurations of loops or cameras, and leveraging your signage, apps or website for guidance can all reduce the cost to upgrade and provide you with the most flexible path to introducing new technologies on an ongoing basis.

It’s important not to get locked into one vendor

A corollary to the last two points, getting locked into one vendor has many negatives. End of life issues, price increases, and maintenance and other cost issues as equipment ages all add together to create ongoing challenges with a closed system. In the event that the vendor doesn’t progress at the pace you need as you grow and expand or go in the direction, from a technical perspective, that you were expecting (or that the industry is), it can be difficult to switch.

The lifetime of parking equipment can be a number of years, and the investment is not insignificant, so switching can incur major costs, both hard and soft. Hardware purchase and installation, software configuration, custom integration with other systems, and the learning curve for your staff (including IT and maintenance) all compile to create a barrier to switching that can be insurmountable.  

By selecting an open and interoperable solution, you provide the flexibility to select the technology you want with the peace of mind that your investment is protected.

An open platform can extend beyond parking availability to integrate with any device or data set

On an ongoing basis, new data sets are introduced that have the potential to improve your parking operation—traffic and congestion feeds, city-wide parking availability apps, campus apps, HR systems, mass notification solutions, and yield management applications that leverage broader data sets, for just a few examples. With an open platform your options become endless. You can either ingest data from these sources or push your availability data to them to increase the impact of your efforts.  

By integrating your availability data or information about individual vehicle locations, the reach of your parking system can extend throughout the organization or community in a way that you may not have anticipated.  

Regardless of the sensors or signs required for your parking availability and guidance solutions, integrating new, more cost- effective or more functional technologies will always be a need. By creating open solutions for your technology stack, you can better meet your needs for today as well as establish the infrastructure that will take you into the future, regardless of your next generation needs or technology advancements. This is a win for you, your stakeholders and customers, and for parkers everywhere.

For more information or to request a quote, contact an ATS parking solutions expert.

This post is an excerpt from the ATS white paper Getting to 99% Accuracy with “Right Fit, Right Technology” Solutions: Why Platform Matters.

How to Achieve “Availability Certainty” Using Connected Parking Systems and Real-time Data Part 3: Building Your “Right-Fit, Right-Technology” Parking System

In today’s post we’ll look at why real-time parking data and analytics are two cornerstones of a successful parking system implementation and operation, and how the right parking guidance solution contributes to your success. Then, we’ll discuss strategies you can implement at your organization, as well as some tips you can use when evaluating and implementing a parking availability and guidance system of your own.

Parking availability & guidance solutions are oftentimes built around one technology. But what if instead of evaluating the sensor type, you were able to look at your parking systems as a total solution designed to capture the highest accuracy data and not as a “one-size-fits-all” device? In that case, you wouldn’t want to commit to one sensor type because you may find your environment—outdoor lots, garages, single paid spaces, space-by-space—requires multiple technologies.   If you have a combination of a few or all of these, you have to look at your sensors as part of an overall solution, one with a combined dashboard and set of metrics that allow you to understand your entire environment.

Sensors’ accuracy levels should be driven by matching the right technology to the problem, in order to dynamically route traffic and parkers to the right place. It might be something as simple as a puck in the pavement, a laser counter, or ALPR for all of your access control and counting, but each solution has a ‘best fit’ from a technology as well as from an environment standpoint.  Newer parking technologies can be less intrusive on infrastructure. For example, you can install an optical laser system using existing power in the garage ceiling and have your entire garage outfitted and calibrated in a day or two. The ParkTrak from All Traffic Solutions is a plug-and-play parking counting system that uses laser technology and directional logic. It installs in under one day without cutting into your infrastructure or disrupting your operations. It is easy to configure and delivers greater than 98% accuracy.

Guidance

Parking guidance systems come in many forms. To find the right one for you, you first want to understand what guidance and wayfinding should look like based on your needs.

Permanent Signage

Signage should conveniently and succinctly tell people where the available parking is, without them having to take their eyes off the road, slow down or stop. Signage should be thoughtfully placed, easy to understand and keep traffic moving.

Portable VMS

While some need permanent signs, others only need to deploy signage occasionally, such as when their visitor log shows that exiting traffic will be heavy. Others may only require a sign to direct people to visitor parking during special events, such as a conference, college graduation or sporting event.

Lot, Zone, Aisle, or Space Indicators

Many parking managers wonder if they need to have signs or if they can simply provide wayfinding with red and green lights. It’s all about the right solution for the right needs, and indicators often fit the bill.

Apps, Websites, and Social Media

These versatile parking guidance tools let people know instantly when a parking area or zone is crowded. You can use a traditional parking app, a corporate app or intranet, social networks like Twitter and Facebook, or opt-in text messaging. These tools provide empowerment and offer users a variety of information choices.

Data and Reporting

Data and reporting are relatively new to the parking industry. Parking data shouldn’t just live in your forecasting tool; you should be able to present data to your customers in the form of availability and be able to prepare for what parking may look like in days ahead, based on data trends. If you have a telecommuting policy, there may be a group of people to whom you could give a work-from-home option on heavy parking days. Data is very powerful, but only if you harness it.

You need to have goals for how to use your parking data. What’s your counting availability goal? Do you want to know how many vehicles enter or exit and when, or what the peak parking periods and days are? Do you want to be able to see your existing entries and exits before you consolidate regional offices into your corporate headquarters or before you build a new parking facility? We’ve seen corporate HQs that close down regional offices and bring everybody on to the corporate campus, only to discover that parking is untenable.

Analytics is also part of the data and reporting structure. Analytics help to break through anecdotal conversations by providing you with the facts. When you’re doing parking analysis, being able to forecast availability is kind of the holy grail, but you can get awfully close. You can make infrastructure and parking planning a priority. You can make better decisions about where to place your headcount by knowing where employees, visitors and shoppers can park. In retail, if you’re able to see that you’re losing 100 potential customers a day because parking is too difficult, you can assign a cost to that.

You have to be able to understand the parking data, so the data interpretation that comes with your reporting tool is critical. You also want to partner with a provider who not only gives you the data and the reporting, but provides a simple process for interpreting it.

Real-time Parking Data and Connected Systems Benefit Everyone

Parkers

Real-time data and reporting can save parkers time, energy and effort and alleviate stress over where they are going to park because now they’re able to reserve it, pay for it and access it in real time.

Companies and Facilities

Real-time parking data makes it easy for employees to find available parking quickly, reducing stress and improving productivity.

Operations

Operators can take their garages and their revenue back, increase profits and reduce costs. They can get the best price for their spaces by driving folks to their own apps and driving more revenue for themselves, rather than paying an aggregator.

IT

IT has a stake in parking because of its ability to interface with things like the employee ID, campus security and parking gate systems. IT appreciates a parking system that is future-proofed and works well, both from an integration standpoint and an information security standpoint.

CITIES

Data helps cities ease the parking congestion nightmare. Real-time data improves traffic flow by directing people to available parking in real time. Cities that focus on reducing congestion and traffic density have a much happier driving public and a healthier city through reduced emissions.

Decision Makers and Planners

Leveraging data for proactive decision making is what we all want to do. The exciting thing about real-time parking availability and real-time data that tells you what’s going on in your facilities is that when machine learning and predictive analytics come into play, you can come pretty close to achieving “availability certainty.” You can look at your data in six months to a year, see the trends and be able to accurately forecast. Your tools can be set to do some of that forecasting for you so you never have to guess what parking will look like from year to year. You will know what to expect and can plan for it.

ParkingCloud

ATS’ ParkingCloud™ is the only cloud-based IoT platform purpose-built for the parking, transportation and traffic industries that integrates all your devices, data and output in one place. ParkingCloud works with just about any third-party data, sensors, legacy devices and publicly available data sets. It has a machine learning engine, provides analytics and reporting, and can combine data sets so that you can see how everything works together and how traffic data potentially impacts parking data and vice versa. ParkingCloud incorporates our (or your existing) guidance and wayfinding system, your reservation system and mobile payments, and PARCS systems.

ParkingCloud removes the burden of having to build out your own system or having to use locally-based systems which require you to continually upgrade or service. We handle all this in real time in the Cloud, making it as maintenance-free and hands-off for you as possible. It’s the true easily customizable solution versus a “one-size-fits-all” that really doesn’t fit anybody.

In our last post, we wrote about how to assess your parking needs.

This post is an excerpt from the ATS white paper How to Achieve “Availability Certainty” Using

Connected Parking Systems and Real-Time Data

For more information or to request a quote, contact an ATS solutions expert.

Getting to 99% Accuracy with Your Parking Availability and Guidance Solution – Part 1: Why Accuracy is Critical

Regardless of whether you’re buying one component of a parking availability and guidance solution, outfitting one lot or garage, or crafting a system for your entire parking environment, your goal is to solve your parking challenges, both today and into the future. You need something that is flexible enough to cost-effectively instrument and disseminate information throughout your diverse infrastructure—lots, garages, street parking—with the right solution to meet your accuracy needs, at the price that will drive value, that doesn’t require an engineering degree to implement, and that has an easy-to-demonstrate impact on your organization.

Nobody thinks about platform when picking a parking availability and guidance solution. In fact, buyers rarely think about platform at all when they’re buying any parking solution. But, it could be the most important part of any technology decision you make.

What is an “open platform”?

You hear about platform in many industries today, but what does it mean really? When we talk about platform, we’re talking about a solution that allows you to integrate with many different components, such as sensors, signs, data sets, and external systems, without extensive custom coding or other IT or engineering work. The key difference between an open platform and a closed system is the ability to connect to different data sources and outputs without having to pay for a custom coding effort to get it to integrate with your existing systems, new technologies or a specific component from another manufacturer. The open platform has pre-built integrations or toolkits that make this a simple, turnkey process that the supplier has to worry about, not you.

So, what does an open platform give you that a closed or proprietary solution doesn’t? Read why selecting a turnkey parking availability solution based on an open platform that’s device agnostic is the best decision you’ll make about your parking technology stack.

You want the most accurate parking counting solution for each separate component of your parking operation

Most parking operations have a number of different environments in which tracking availability is necessary—garages, lots and street parking, to name the most common—and a variety of applications they want to deploy. Most frequently these include availability and guidance, access control, safety, and reservations, but messaging, mass notifications, custom analytics, and integrations with other systems are also on many parking professionals’ radars too. Deploying the best solution to fit the problem is the way to get the results you’re looking for. The challenge is that there isn’t typically one technology that fits every environment or configuration, and there aren’t any suppliers who cover every possible scenario.

For example, at a large university, you may have:

Surface lots, some with clear access points and some with no defined entries or exits, some with controlled access, some with design standards that restrict the use of poles or delimiters, some with very low light levels, some with power and some without, some with occlusions, some unsurfaced or some set aside for specific events or venues.

Garages, which may or may not be access controlled, may include meters, may have multiple exits and entries, may have premium spaces (reserved, handicapped or expectant mother) or rooftops that need space level availability and guidance.

Street parking that may be metered or open, may have time restrictions, may be reserved for specific events or times or may have design constraints that restrict accurate counting.

The last thing you want is for each structure to have a varying rate of accuracy in the number of spaces occupied. If your garage availability solution is 99% but your surface lot solution is at 80% and your street parking solution even lower, your aggregate accuracy rate is very low. And that’s not a daily accuracy rate if you have multiple turns on each space. Even if you have an accuracy rate of 90% across all your environments, if you have four turns a day, you are producing directionally accurate data, at best.  

You may also have a number of different needs or applications, for example:

  • To provide parking availability information, both on signage and directly in your campus app, to provide a one-stop shop for students
  • To integrate with your permitting system to control access to specific lots using ALPR or Bluetooth
  • To leverage your mass notification system to alert those on campus during events via signage or direct app integration
  • To integrate with multiple parking management systems to provide a campus-wide view into available spaces
  • To include reservation services for pay-to-park events or feed availability to an aggregator

Across everything, though, for every kind of operation, you likely want one source of truth: one parking availability and guidance system to reference where you can see the availability, utilization, occupancy time, duration of stay, and type of parking stay for every lot, garage or street parking space under your management. You want to have one place where you can gather your data to make the best decisions in real time and on the fly, provide guidance for parkers in real time, and understand your environment based on true data, not opinion or anecdote.

This can only happen when you have very high accuracy rates. Without that, you’re still working from supposition, making it difficult to solve the problem, whether it’s getting students to the closest available parking spaces and to class as quickly as possible (helping increase student retention), shoppers into spaces and shops without frustration (so they can spend money), employees into their seats (so they’re productive and ready to work), or visitors into and out of their event venue without backups (to reduce traffic, congestion and emissions). For each of these considerations, there is a “best fit” technology, one sensor type or technical solution that provides the most appropriate accuracy level at the right cost. Finding one manufacturer who offers each of the different sensor types or integrations can be challenging if not impossible.

In our next post, learn more reasons why selecting a turnkey parking availability solution based on an open platform that’s device agnostic is the best decision you’ll make about your parking technology stack.

For more information or to request a quote, contact an ATS parking solutions expert.

This post is an excerpt from the ATS white paper Getting to 99% Accuracy with “Right Fit, Right Technology” Solutions: Why Platform Matters.