ATS Hosts First Customer Appreciation Day for Local Law Enforcement

All Traffic Solutions open house Flags of Valor

 

by Christine Parisi
Business Development Manager
All Traffic Solutions

“Sell the problem you solve, not the product”— this quote recently inspired me. Sure, it’s what everyone in Sales aims to do— but I say there is no better deal closed than when you help your customers solve a problem.”

For those of us who live in the DC Metro area, I think it is more than safe to say that traffic is a definite problem. Honestly, that is putting it very nicely. Unfortunately, we can’t just snap our fingers and make it go away, but we can make it better, safer, and easier to manage. In doing so, we help those employed in the traffic and safety sector including municipalities, DoT’s, corporate campuses, and more. In this particular case of the Local Event, the “more” represented our customers who put their lives on the line every day, while also (somehow) finding time to deal with this issue we call traffic. More specifically DMV law enforcement.

Did you know, that an officer is required by law to respond to every traffic complaint their department receives? Now, I’m not saying that so you pick up the phone and dial in to complain about Mrs. Johnson’s son who drives like Jason Statham in Fast and Furious down your street on a daily basis, I’m making a point of just how time-consuming it is for law enforcement to investigate and respond to each and every one. And no offense, but Mrs. Johnson’s son probably isn’t driving that fast.

At All Traffic Solutions, it’s our job to make traffic enforcement easier, more efficient, and less of a drain on resources and budget. We manufacture those signs you see on the road displaying your speed (the white ones with a green ATS sticker on the back). Disclaimer: we are not issuing speeding tickets! We help law enforcement, municipalities and many others to manage their radar signs, message boards and other devices and collect accurate data for reporting remotely using our patented TraffiCloud cloud-based software.


Why We Decided to Host an Open House

The idea came from the fact that since we live in the DMV and work for a traffic technology company, it only made sense to invite them to the office for face-to-face conversations in a relaxed environment — with fun activities, training and meaningful prizes. More importantly, we wanted to hear directly from the source— the literal eyes and ears of our products who are deployed on the streets— on ways that we as a company can continue to improve.

Officers shared ways ATS helps them keep community roads safe, such as using our SpeedAlert speed trailers with TraffiCloud to resolve neighborhood speeding complaints faster and more efficiently. They also had suggestions for us on product features as well as ideas for future events.

Giveaways included ATS logo t-shirts retrofitted with the three flags representing the DMV, a handcrafted thin blue line American flag from the Flags of Valor in Ashburn, VA and a new ATS Shield 12 radar speed display sign with one year of TraffiCloud. We gave demos, showcased some new technology, and even playing a little football with one of our signs— durability testing, anyone? (PS, the sign was 100% not harmed)

The atmosphere was casual and there were smiles all around. Which brings me back to my original point: There is no better deal, “closed won” than seeing your product help a customer solve a problem. It was an honor to spend the day with members of local law enforcement who are out there on the front lines using our products. It was even more of an honor to hear how our products make their jobs better, safer and easier.

Afterthought

We hope this event was the first of many to come because all of our customers are truly worth a day of appreciation!

To close, here is a fun, 2-minute video featuring the durability of our products.

Customers Lose When Parking Apps Fail

by Christine Parisi
Business Development Manager
All Traffic Solutions

Behind the (Mobile Parking) App 

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about apps. Not to be confused with deep-fried platters of pickles and secret sauces. I mean applications, as in mobile. How many apps does the average person have on their mobile device and how many of them are for parking? The answer probably depends on your geographical location and other factors, such as whether you’re in a major city or reside in urban sprawl, how much you travel for work or leisure, and how reliant you are on technology versus pen and paper. That last one probably has the most influence.

In Apps We Trust

ATS Parking Cloud parking availability accuracy for smart parking

How often do we think about accuracy when we download an app? I know I don’t. I go to the App Store, type in my Apple ID and press the download button. I never stop to consider if the app will ever fail me, which is very trusting (read: ignorant) of me, especially in view of what I’m about to say in this post. But as a millennial, and the main target audience when it comes to tech efficiency, I believe my input is readworthy. (Parking managers: take note!)

App users find (certain) mobile applications for parking indispensable, especially those who fall into the Urban, Traveler, and Tech-Dependent buckets. If you read my last post, parking apps make parking our vehicles easier, giving us peace of mind so we don’t lose our $h!t in a parking garage when running late for a movie. When parking apps fail us, it can have a huge impact on our day.

Remember, it’s about the customer parking experience, people! When your app provides inaccurate availability info, you have failed the customer. The accuracy of the “data in” impacts the ecosystem around the entire customer parking experience. This is one instance where I would hesitate to download the app without first considering the validity of the data.

Increase in Availability Accuracy Can Save Millions

ATS ParkingCloud Parking Accuracy Counts Here’s an example of how much an organization can be affected by a lack of accurate parking availability data and the impact when they switch to a highly accurate solution, as one ATS customer did:

This Silicon Valley company has over 6,000 employees working on campus. Finding available parking each morning with their old solution was challenging, time-consuming and frustrating. Parkers drove from location to location in search of open spaces and frequently arrived late to their desks, making a dent in productivity levels. By implementing ParkingCloud, the company was able to reduce employee circling time to 10 minutes per day. At an average salary of $95K per employee, the company is able to realize an annual savings of $10,300,000!

In order for the parking experience to work seamlessly, we can’t really have much room for error, can we? Where are you getting your parking availability data from? If you’re a parking manager, are you certain of the data accuracy you publicly display? How much revenue are you losing from inaccurate counts?  

Afterthought

Two years ago, the New York Times published an article about the predictive capability of parking guidance applications and where the information comes from. The article states that the technology race is being run in the applications themselves, and that data accuracy is the key indicator of who’s winning. How many apps have joined that race in the last two years? Where do you fall in the parking accuracy pack?

Bet you’d rather be thinking about deep-fried pickles now.

 

Why Accurate Parking Availability is a Must-Have

 

accurate parking availability counts are a must-have

 

Whether you manage parking facilities for a commercial parking operator, university, corporate campus or airport, immediate access to real-time parking availability is a must-have for maximum revenue, productivity and customer satisfaction. Attaining 99+% accuracy levels is not only possible, but the technology can be cost-effective and easy to deploy quickly. For parking professionals looking to reduce congestion, circling and emissions, increase customer satisfaction and employee productivity, optimize utilization, implement demand-based pricing, and maximize revenue, you can deploy cost-effective and easy-to-use technology and provide real-time benefits.  


Bad Accuracy Data Affects Everything 

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.

Why is real-time occupancy data so important? To answer that question, let’s look at a situation typical of an organization that does not have accurate availability counts.

Let’s say you’re a university with on-street and off-street parking facilities.  You probably have high-volume areas where it’s difficult to find parking. As a result, students and faculty must circle for open spots, which makes them late for class, and in turn, makes them unhappy. The parking situation could even affect their decision to return the following year. All those idling and circling vehicles create greenhouse gas emissions. Word gets out about your parking issues and lack of green parking initiatives, which hurts commuter enrollment. Circling and waiting in line to park cause congestion on streets and in garages and surface lots. That congestion, in turn, creates traffic problems and safety issues for the community.


The Solution 

With real-time parking availability counts you can:

  • Push availability information immediately to signage, your parking app and social media to guide parkers to open spaces faster
  • Get faculty and students into their seats quickly and efficiently
  • Base work or class schedules on parking occupancy patterns and locations
  • Implement pricing strategies based on understanding peaks and valleys in parking demand
  • Leverage availability data for long-term planning

The good news is you can make simple changes to dramatically improve the accuracy of your parking occupancy data and make parking better for everyone. If you want to learn how to do that, we’d love to talk with you. 

 

 

 

 

Traffic Calming Measures to Save Pedestrian Lives

 

As immersed as we are in traffic statistics each day at ATS, this particular statistic from a 2011 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study never ceases to hit home: “The average person hit by a car traveling 25 mph has a 12 percent chance of death. That drops to a 7 percent risk at 20 mph.”

Pedestrian survival rates decrease as vehicle speed increases. The chance of a person dying as a result of being struck by a vehicle decreases 5 percent when the speed of the vehicle is just five mph lower. That’s one percentage point less for every reduced mile of speed. But if you double the vehicle speed from 20 mph to 40 mph, the chance of death doesn’t merely double from 7 percent to 14 percent—it skyrockets to 85 percent according to a National Transportation Safety Board 2017 study.

Pedestrian deaths from speeding increase exponentially as vehicle speed increases. Once cars reach a certain speed (just above 20 mph), they rapidly become more deadly. Think about the speed limits in your community, especially around schools, parks and shopping areas. If speed limits in those areas are set higher than 20 mph, it’s probably time to reassess and request a lower speed limit, as well as anywhere else where there is a disproportionate number of speeding vehicles.

Look at these stills from ProPublica’s interactive graph:

Graph: ProPublica

Traffic Calming Measures

Radar signs are a versatile and effective traffic calming method and an efficient way to gather highly accurate speed data.

To demonstrate the volume and percentage of speeding vehicles on any given road, you’ll need to gather accurate speed data. You can run quick, easy speed studies using a radar speed display such as the Shield radar sign or SpeedAlert radar speed display from All Traffic Solutions.

Both the web-enabled Shield and the SpeedAlert capture accurate speed and volume data, and when you the TraffiCloud traffic management system this data is automatically uploaded so you can run pre-designed reports and charts for traffic studies. Either device can also gather data in “stealth mode” so the sign appears to be turned off and drivers won’t slow down as they pass. This provides true data of drivers who aren’t on their “best behavior” because of the sign.

Radar speed displays are perfect for handling speed complaints—deploy one in lieu of a police officer and you save money and enable law enforcement to stay in the field. Then simply select your date and time range in TraffiCloud and produce a report to present to the citizen that shows the real story on speeding down their street.

If your goal is to increase traffic safety in your neighborhood, radar speed signs are effective traffic calming devices. All Traffic Solutions customers are seeing reductions in speed of as much as 23% and more after installing a radar speed display—making them one of the fastest, easiest and most effective traffic calming measures.

If you’d like more information on any of our cloud-based traffic calming solutions, contact us to speak with a solutions specialist, or you can request a quote now on any of our portable traffic devices.

To test out ProPublica’s interactive speed chart click here.

Parking Sucks: Let’s Make it Better

by Christine Parisi, ATS Business Development Manager and Observer of All Things Parking

I moved to the Northern, VA area just over four years ago. Since then I’ve relocated four times, each move placing me a little closer to Washington DC and a little farther from my country lifestyle and dirt roads. I certainly did not imagine myself living alongside Interstate 495, commonly referred to as “The Beltway”, the 64-mile highway that encircles Washington DC. Nor did I foresee taking my broadcast background and working for a traffic and parking technology company. 

Nevertheless, I continue to be extremely intrigued by the vast amount of traffic and parking information I encounter daily in both my work life and my commute. So, I figure if I’m living in it, why not talk about it? 

Murphy’s Law of Parking

ATS Smart Parking Blog

Parking sucks for drivers, or “parkers” if you will. I find it extremely unlikely that anyone would disagree with this statement unless you are from my small town in Pennsylvania and have entire cornfields of parking options. From the moment we leave “X” with the intention of driving to “Y”, we want to know the perfect parking space is waiting at “Z”. Am I wrong? Parking a car can be a lot like Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong, it often will. 

Here’s an example: several weeks ago, my roommate and I were headed to the movies in the bustling Tysons Corner area. Not anticipating any traffic (apparently I haven’t lived here long enough) we left a little later than we should have, and arrived at the theater with only ten minutes to spare. (Mind you, it takes us over ten minutes just to get snacks!) 

When we pulled into the parking garage, the signage overhead displayed plenty of available spaces. Perfect…not! In truth, we wouldn’t be parking for a while. Parking traffic was so backed up within the garage that we had to put the car in park and wait for a solid five minutes. Words cannot accurately describe the cacophony of echoing, honking and beeping as frustrated shoppers and “late to the movie” goers sat, helpless in the dark garage, trying to avoid fender benders and resorting to foul language. I personally could not avoid the last one. It was a parking garage disaster.

When the congestion finally subsided, I told my roommate to ignore the parking space signage and just drive. In other words, my backseat driver voice said, “forget the technology”. I noticed at least six vehicles parked incorrectly, causing the sensors or loops to miscalculate occupancy, and this particular garage has over 1000 spaces so I’m sure this wasn’t the only issue causing the inaccurate counts. Every upgrade, every fancy new sign, they all bring new challenges we can only try to learn from and improve.

 

Bad Counting Makes for Bad Parking Experiences

ATS smart parking counting accuracyThat particular evening is only one of the many times I have talked myself out of a parking garage anxiety attack. Without accurate availability counts, we are failing our customers and ourselves and creating frustration. Sure, we could rely on error-prone loops and cameras or go back to the inadequate method of having someone walk the grounds taking a physical inventory, or we can fix parking once and for all. There are far too many overpopulated cities and people like myself who actually enjoy driving for us to rely on manual counts. AND, we have the right technology now, so why not use it?

If we want to make the overall parking experience better, we need to start by perfecting a basic skill: just like when we were children we need to count—accurately. If the data output doesn’t match the true data input, clearly we messed up somewhere. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be the one in charge of digging up all of the millions of concrete spaces, starting from scratch to fix the problem by installing yet another parking counting system. We need to ask ourselves why we work in this industry and remove those dollar signs floating around in our heads and think about The Customer. Start over and start counting accurately because parking shouldn’t be better, it has to be better. Or else I’m going to get out of the car in the next garage and walk.

 

Afterthought

How many drivers actually trust the numbers we see on parking signage? Think of yourself, for example. Do you trust your occupancy data 99.9%? Or could it be the inadequacies of your loops or cameras, the mistakes made during manual inventory, or the fault of drivers— because strong-willed game fans in a hurry with seats on the 50-yard line are going to park wherever their hearts desire. (At least my father would, and does when we go to a PSU game.) I think it’s a little bit of all three, and that’s where it gets interesting. How do those of us in the parking industry make it better for the driver and the parking operator’s pocket? 

 

Smart Solutions to Car Parking Problems in Large Shopping Malls

solutions to car parking problems in large shopping malls

Retail shopping centers face an increasing threat of decline due to online shopping. It’s not surprising that many consumers find it more convenient to do their shopping over the Internet, rather than face lines of traffic in and out of shopping malls and in parking areas. Once in the lot or garage, they must cruise up and down rows of full spaces searching for the elusive available spot, which may be blocks away from their intended shopping destination. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why many consumers avoid brick and mortar shopping at all costs.

As buyer behaviors change, shopping center operators are coming under increased pressure to find solutions to car parking problems in their large shopping malls to improve and enhance the traditional shopping experience and drive revenue. Many commercial operators are turning to new technologies that leverage data to analyze foot traffic, identify drivers of customer satisfaction and increase spend.  What they may not realize is that by applying smart parking technology to collect and analyze accurate parking data, retail operators have a powerful tool to improve the parking experience, increase customer satisfaction and maximize parking and retail revenue – turning their properties into thriving consumer centers.

Benefits of High-Accuracy Parking Availability Data

Improve Customer Satisfaction

For the majority of retail customers, the first experience they will have on any shopping trip is with your parking operation. One of the biggest customer complaints is not having access to parking availability. They don’t know where to look for convenient (or cheap) parking spots. Unable to navigate directly to desirable parking or reserve and pay for a spot in advance, they’re forced to circle parking garages or lots. We’ve all seen studies that show after as few as one bad shopping experience, a customer may never return again. Poor satisfaction means lost revenue and wasted acquisition spend. Make life easy for your customers, and they’ll keep coming back.

Operators can address customer needs by using real-time parking occupancy data across their operation to understand space availability (including premium or restricted spaces). This requires connecting the counting devices you already have to a central system that updates in real time. Whether you have counting devices installed at garage entrances and exits, on parking levels or at each individual space, they can be connected to a centralized platform that sends that data out to strategically-placed signage in and around your property, to your center’s app, your website, and your social networks.

Increase Revenue

Every minute a customer spends looking for parking is one less minute they have to shop.  Accurate parking availability data allows you to direct shoppers to convenient open parking faster (including premium spaces) and keep congestion to a minimum. If you have a parking management system that provides accurate real-time occupancy counts, you can decrease the time they spend in the parking area and maximize their shopping time. You’re also increasing the value of your customers’ shopping trips by increasing their productivity, maximizing their shopping experience, lowering their fuel costs, and reducing their carbon footprint.

There are other revenue benefits to having accurate parking data. By analyzing trends by location, daypart, seasonality or other factors you can institute dynamic pricing to take advantage of times when parking spots are at a premium. You can optimize revenue streams by directing parkers to VIP parking areas, charging stations or other premium-add services that make shopping at your property more attractive and convenient.

Planning

For commercial operators considering expansion, accurate historical parking data can inform decision making so you make smarter, money-saving decisions like whether to build, renovate or expand parking facilities. You can also move toward predictive parking availability.

Finding a solution to car parking problems in large shopping malls doesn’t have to cost a fortune. By using systems you already have in place, you can collect and analyze parking occupancy data in real time to make your property more attractive to consumers, and more profitable for you today and into the future.

If you’d like a simplified, integrated smart parking solution that gives shopping centers highly accurate real-time occupancy data that works with the systems you already use, contact us.

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.