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Make Parking Better

Home / Blog / Make Parking Better
"Traffic
Blog, law enforcement, Make Parking Better, smart cities, traffic safety

Why Traffic and Parking Solutions are Critical for Communities of Concern

More than 90 Americans die every day in vehicular accidents. 

The bad news? It most likely won’t change until communities get proactive when it comes to traffic and parking safety. Despite the best efforts of cities like New York, the congestion on our roadways is leading to more pollution, more accidents, and more deaths. 

The good news? It’s tough to find a silver lining, but organizations like Vision Zero are tackling the problem head on. For the unfamiliar, Vision Zero is multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.

Vision Zero has identified “communities of concern” which it defines as the 12 percent of roads that more than 70 percent of accidents occur. Solving parking and traffic challenges in these communities is paramount to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. 

Communities of Concern include areas where the following are higher: 

  • Older adults and adults without vehicles 
  • Children and school areas 
  • People with disabilities 
  • Impoverished areas or those with lower educational attainment
  • Chronic health conditions 
  • Safety concerns due to speed limits and crashes 

We recently announced that the Florida Department of Transportation (DoT) has added All Traffic Solutions to its list of preferred vendors on the Approved Products List. Moving forward, it could be one of our signs you see on the most dangerous roadways in Florida, whether it be US-1, I-95, I-75, or an arterial or collector road. Here’s why that matters:

  • Most DoTs are overburdened. Technology has changed a lot of things and has certainly made strides in impacting transportation. But, promises of tomorrow – self-driving cars, for example – still seem to be a long way off. Until these departments get some relief in dealing with the day in, day out issues they face managing transportation – whether it be cars, busses, trains, etc. – the roadways aren’t safe. Transportation options are outpacing infrastructure advances and most transportation offices are understaffed.  Internet of Things (IoT) devices that enable an administrator to quickly update a sign and warn people of impending traffic or danger is a step in the right direction for managing transportation issues. 
  • Today’s drivers are consumers of technology. We’re in an era where smart devices and IoT devices are used for everything from turning the lights on in a home to managing an entire lighting grid for a city. Drivers – today’s consumers – understand technology. The value of a well-placed sign that provides a heads-up versus heads-down reminder of driver speed and is updated real-time has a tremendous impact. 
  • Technology that literally saves lives. We talked about the sobering number of deaths on the roads each day. One sign can be the difference between life and death for a driver. Signs are often overlooked because of the labor involved with setting them up. But All Traffic Solutions has devices that can be set up by a single person and provides a platform that give DoTs and municipalities the power to have visibility to their entire community at one time and act based on environmental variables. I’ve written in this space before about the fears that hold communities back from integrating smart city technologies, but adopting just one sign makes a community a smart city – and is a major step toward increasing road safety in your community. 

We all know the dangers out there every time a citizen hops behind the wheel of a car and, as traffic parking and safety professionals, we have the power to put programs in place that save lives. We know you’re overtaxed and often fighting through bureaucratic red tape to make things happen. It’s hard to be proactive when you’re constantly putting out fires. But you can take the power back by leveraging traffic crash and safety data from local law enforcement, linking it up to smart devices, and proactively communicating traffic hazards.

 

 

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Accurate Parking Counts, Improving Parking Occupancy Counts, Make Parking Better

You can turn your signs back on now!

A “Quick Rant” by Christine Parisi

Too often, monument signs that are supposed to be displaying open and occupied parking spaces are turned off, putting the “parking experience” right back into the drivers hands; leaving it up to the customer to guess where (and if) there are open spaces.. Strong-willed drivers might not even notice, while others…not so much.

But before I dive any deeper, I want to make it known that I am not referring to product malfunctions, integration issues or even a specific occasion when I witnessed this, because it happens and that’s okay. It’s inevitable – “glitches” will occur and fast workarounds will sometimes be needed. 

But why is this such an unspoken topic? Why isn’t anyone talking about how many signs are turned off? It’s in plain sight, and leaves me only to assume: 

  • “As long as the space by space overhead lighting is showing availability, it’s not a pressing issue, we’ll fix it later.”
  • “We plan on doing that during the next phase of installation.”
  • “People have been parking without technology for years, they can use their eyes to find a spot.”
  • “Loops, pucks, gates are all working fine. You don’t know what you don’t know.”
  • “We don’t trust the data.” 

Here’s what I think. I think all of the above are extremely kind assumptions. Chances are, drivers probably don’t even care why, they just can’t get a clue about where to find a spot. So, how much impact does this have on the parking experience? 

What Happens When Your Signs are Off

Reality check – TAKE NOTE:

  • Parking managers/garage owners lose money
  • Parker/driver confusion = poor impression of the facility
  • Increased traffic density due to lack of visibility into available parking
  • Increased stress on garage staff as they have to scramble to manage traffic and frustrated parkers
  • Inaccurate counts can result in overselling and this can cause customer frustration/dissatisfaction

Over the last three years I have purposefully acquainted myself with those I consider to be extremely educated on all things parking. I have been involved in countless conversations with parking leaders, I’ve asked a lot of questions and received great insight. Yet, with all of this knowledge, experience, and technology no one seems to be talking about the importance of displaying accurate counts. And I get it. There are thousands of abandoned scooters that need cleaning up, air-taxis services in the works, and thanks to data received from LPR technologies, there are even new dating apps hitting the pavement. There’s a lot going on. I just don’t think that is reason enough to ignore such an integral component in creating a successful parking scenario.

The Fix

The truth is there is no perfect parking scenario – at least not yet. But there are lots of kickass technologies challenging the way we think about parking and reinventing the old paradigms. The fact that we are even talking about air taxis is incredible. It’s 2020 and the world is changing. So let’s keep doing what works, leverage what is the most accurate, and align all of it to give our customers something they can be happy with. 

And please — turn your signs back on! #accuracymatters

"ATS
Make Parking Better

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.

 

"ATS
Make Parking Better

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? 

 

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