Improve the Parking Experience with an Open-Platform Solution

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.

When it Comes to Smart Parking, Why Easy 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

 

 

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.

How to Achieve “Availability Certainty” Using Connected Parking Systems and Real-time Data Part 2: How to assess your parking needs

In our last post, we discussed the limitations of old-school solutions. Now let’s look at how to assess the best smart parking solution for you.

Solutions: Best vs. Best Fit

There’s a lot of debate in the parking industry about the best parking technology, and it sometimes leaves the industry at odds. Organizations are tired of trying to manage more and more complex parking availability and guidance systems, and complexity does not always equal the best fit. They want a solution that solves their problems.

You hear a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), real-time data, predictive analytics—but the technology you choose has to be something you can actually use. If you’re the parking administrator at a company or university, you want it to be simple. You want to be able to grab the data simply and leverage the data in a meaningful way. If you’re a parker, you also need technology to be simple, not something that completely twists your brain when you’re trying to park your car.

Parking has become a bigger and bigger problem for everyone. It takes a lot of time and energy for people to circle trying to find parking, and it takes lots of money and resources for organizations to manage those environments, only to find out the solution they were offered and implemented hasn’t solved the problems. If you have legacy investments already in place on your campus today, you want to figure out a way to integrate them into the new parking technology that’s coming down the line and some of the platforms that are available.

Organizations should focus on parking availability certainty, not probability. Look at accuracy versus estimates, and know your parking availability down to the last car. Take the information that you may have captured in an Excel spreadsheet and start to do some comparisons to see how close you were to what the real numbers are. Look at parking data for more exact data sets to inform infrastructure development.

True Data in the Cloud

Whether you are looking to make a profit or planning for growth, you need true data in order to develop a roadmap of how to get there. At All Traffic Solutions, we believe that the best path to true data is a cloud-based system. You don’t want servers, manual updates or manual field service—you want a system that delivers true data quickly and remotely and gives you the ability to tie in other systems for greater benefits. If you have ALPR and a permitting system but you want to install a counting system, you should be able to tie them in and have them all on your cloud-based platform.

What Data and Technology Can Do for You

What do you want your data and technology to do for you? Do you want to monitor and manage your pay-to-park spots so you can set rates and pricing? Do you want to simply capture the number of people who park on your campus? Do too many employees park in the visitor lot or in handicapped or expectant mother spaces? Not only can you manage it all with the proper mix of sensors and wayfinding, you can actually help develop policies that have a positive impact on your organization.


How to Assess Your Parking Needs

Here are some questions to ask when figuring out the right parking availability and guidance system for you.

 

What does the physical infrastructure look like?

Do you have a mix, or is it all garages or surface lots? Do you have defined entries or open access? Do you have designated entrances and exits, or is there an enter/exit opportunity with a single lane of road? Do you use lane delineators? Do you separate things off using a delineator system?

Do you have design restrictions? This is a big one. You may want high-tech equipment and sensors and the latest signage, only to discover there are design restrictions. Do your homework and find out before you make selections.

Do you need to count both spaces and zones?

If you have huge corporate parking garages where you enter on one side, exit at the other and park somewhere in between, do you want to track which zones are experiencing the most traffic, or do you want to know where most people choose to park? Do you want counts at the zone level, by individual space, or do you need to count them both?

There are many good systems available that will not only help you count spaces but will also provide information on which spaces are open and which are closed.

What are your signage requirements?

There are many excellent options available in terms of signage. Do you need standard count availability signage, or do you need a monument board that tells you the availability on each level? Do you need signage that not only provides parking counts but corporate messaging as well?

Do you need signage at all?

Could you provide availability with a simple red/green bollard system that shows parkers exactly where they can park?

Do you have existing counting equipment?

Do you already have something in place that counts people coming in and out, but you’re just not getting data from it? You should be able to integrate your existing counting system into your platform.

What kind of reports do you need?

When asked, many organizations will respond, “I want all the parking data,” but what they don’t realize is that ALL the data is like a big fire hose. It’s best to think strategically. Determine what you want initially and what matters to you the most today. Then start to build out your data, based on your reporting needs, from that point and you’ll develop a healthy number of reports as you move through the process. Collect three to six months of data so you can start to drive your business through forecasting based on accurate data.

Our previous post discussed limitations of old school solutions.

In our next post, read about how ATS can help you achieve “Availability Certainty” using connected parking systems and real-time data.

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.

How to Achieve “Availability Certainty” Using Connected Parking Systems and Real-time Data Part 1: Limitations of old school solutions

Traditionally, parking availability data used for guidance, pricing, planning and reporting has been based on estimates and anecdotal information, but today that’s no longer an option. If you’re a parking manager, understanding real-time availability is central to providing efficient wayfinding and better customer service. Real-time data allows you to maximize revenue by implementing dynamic pricing based on current demand. Real-time availability data gives you insight into how your parking organization is currently functioning and changing, and what the latest trends look like.

In this blog post we’ll look at the stark contrast between “old school” parking solutions and the next stage of parking, mobility and technology, and how the Cloud and IoT (Internet of Things) are helping parking managers gain efficiencies, save money and deliver a better parking experience.

Old School Solutions

Parking is more than just the physical structures; it’s part of the bigger vision that positively or negatively impacts an entire city and the infrastructure around it. Parking is a vital factor in mobility and guidance, and it’s as much about navigating through a city as it is navigating through a garage. Your city is adversely affected when you don’t have real-time availability data. Other limitations of old school parking solutions include:

Can’t Route Parkers

Efficient, accurate routing is really critical to sustaining optimal traffic flow, but many existing parking guidance solutions are woefully inadequate. They often route people to facilities that are full, causing would-be parkers to circle garages, lots and city streets—leading to traffic jams and agitating everyone. When signage is present, it’s not always designed to be helpful—legacy signage can actually cause congestion by forcing drivers to slow down to read because information is presented in a way that isn’t highly visible or legible.

People today expect more than physical parking locations and availability numbers. They’re looking for specific zone and even space-specific information for their immediate parking need, be it for shopping, a special event, or a business meeting.

Insufficient Availability Data

The methods you used in the past to understand availability don’t really work anymore because they don’t tell you everything that’s happening within your premises. You may have an idea based on past experience, but you don’t necessarily know what’s going on at any given time.

For example, do you really know how your parking areas are being utilized? If some parkers are leaving their cars for eight or nine hours at a time at a shopping center, it could mean they’re not actually shopping—they’re commuting—but you won’t know this unless you have occupancy data or unless you were to watch and manually record each vehicle. It’s not practical to assign a person to stand in the corner with a clicker; it’s far more efficient and helpful to count occupancy and occupancy duration in a sensor-based environment that drives that data in real time.

 

Flow, Safety and Productivity are Impacted

Everybody would love to accurately forecast parking availability, but it’s almost impossible if you don’t have accurate real-time parking availability data. Public safety is often addressed piecemeal in the parking world. Some garages still have somebody periodically counting vehicles manually to get an idea of capacity throughout the day and actually build their safety policy around that information.

Many parking facilities still use loops, which can be not only unreliable but tear up infrastructure, take days or even weeks to install and can disrupt the facility during installation, calibration and setup. We consider that old school.

What Would Your Perfect Parking System Look like?

How would your current parking operation be impacted if you had immediate access to real-time parking availability data? Think of each component of your end-to-end parking process and how you could optimize it with real-time data. For example,  if you’re a municipality and you want to guide eventgoers through your town to convenient, available parking, how would guidance be enhanced with access to up-to-the-minute occupancy data? You could provide the latest availability information via continuously updated signage on major roads or through your app or website. In the garage, you could tell parkers where they could find parking by level, row, space and in nested areas.

Add real-time traffic data to the mix and your parking system becomes even better. Let’s say you’re running an airport and you want to provide accurate, efficient traffic routing from downtown out to the airport. At the airport, you want to route people away from a construction area to the nearest available parking in time for them to make their flights. At exits, you want to tell parkers the most efficient way to leave the parking garage or lot to avoid congested routes to major roadways. You can accomplish all this by leveraging real-time availability and traffic data.

How Data Transforms Parking Operations

Parking operations generally fall into one of four segments, and regardless of which segment you’re in, you can achieve “availability certainty.”

Commercial operators

Commercial operators can reduce cost and increase profitability using real-time parking data. If you’re a commercial operator, you want to get the most out of every space you have available, and you can maximize yield with dynamic pricing that’s driven by real-time data. If your facility has an app or reservation feature, with real-time data you can drive revenue.

Municipalities

Many factors impact municipal parking. Increase in headcount, office changes, consolidation, and construction can all affect where people park. Local events, weather and time of year also play a part in parking demand.

Many municipalities prefer to manage parking based on known factors, such as how much they can charge to accommodate current and potential growth. They want to consider impacts of growth, for example, if a large company sets up headquarters in their town. With accurate availability data, they can plan for that and be able to manage it when it happens.

Municipalities also want to consider the residents and anchor businesses, those who help build the community and keep it stable. With real-time data, parking can be leveraged to aid economic development and enhance quality of life for residents.

Universities

Universities face similar problems as student enrollment increases, especially at commuter schools. In many cases, they rely on a security or facilities team to go out and perform manual counts across surface and garage lots. They’d like to increase student and staff satisfaction with real, accurate guidance, making it easier to find parking and get to class on time.

They can do this by understanding their true parking availability. By having real-time availability data, they can make smart, money-saving decisions based on facts and not guesswork when it comes to building, renovating, or expanding parking.

Corporate

Productivity, morale and stress levels are affected when employees are spending 25 minutes looking for a parking space. Corporations want to get employees out of their cars and into their seats faster. They can do this while leveraging technology they’ve already implemented and future-proofing their next investment. For example, if your company already has a gate system, you may want to put in a counting system but without having to tear up the gates.

Companies can use parking data to drive additional mobility and workplace transformation initiatives as well. If you are at capacity and don’t have anywhere to build, you can use a parking availability system to drive rideshare programs or flextime and develop policies around how much parking you have now and how much you would like to have in the future.

Companies also must consider the communities in which they’re located. If your parking garage is situated off of a public road, you don’t want your employees tying up traffic in the morning or the afternoon when they’re arriving or leaving work.

In our next post, read about how ATS can help you 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 parking solutions expert.

How to Gain Real-Time Understanding of Your Parking Availability Using a Smart Cities Approach

If you’re a parking operator, when it comes to having a parking management system that allows you to understand your total parking availability in real time, the deck has been stacked against you. There are many factors that have made it very challenging. In today’s post, we’ll talk about those challenges, and how you can leverage the latest technology to move you closer towards having the right-size, right-fit, right-technology parking system you want but thought you couldn’t have.

The Situation

Parking systems have traditionally been built on platforms that use proprietary software and therefore don’t “talk” to other systems, and don’t provide information and data in real time. Also, the systems required the purchase of a server, plus ongoing IT support.

As a parking facilities manager, how can you gain insights into your entire inventory? Every lot, every garage, all your on-street parking and every premium space?

The answer lies in adopting a smart cities approach to parking.

A smart approach:

  • Leverages your existing hardware and software, together with data analytics, to accomplish more while spending less
  • Utilizes a technology-agnostic strategy so you can use the technology you have and seamlessly add the technologies you want in the future
  • Collects valuable data and then uses it to make the most cost-effective and impactful decisions
  • Integrates all your devices, systems, and data onto a single platform to give you real-time insight into your entire inventory

Here are five best practices your organization can implement now to attain the right parking system for you while continuing to use the systems you already have, to gain a real-time understanding of your total parking inventory.

#1 Automate Using the Cloud

The Cloud can simplify things, allowing you to leverage the IoT (Internet of Things) to connect your parking-related devices so they can “talk” to one another. 

So, your parking counting system could tell your variable message signs the current availability on each level so the signs can share that information with parkers. You can implement dynamic pricing automatically, increasing the hourly parking fee when lots approach a preset threshold to maximize revenue.

When you use these technologies you can monitor all your systems from anywhere using the Internet so they’re easier to manage, improving the parking experience for parkers and operators.

You also want to look for a parking management system that is built using an open-technology platform, which gives you maximum flexibility now and in the future. For example, ParkingCloud from All Traffic Solutions connects all your systems on a single, central platform. This gives you limitless technology choices, independent of your current environment—as complex or as simple as you need them to be. You leverage your existing technology, can add new technologies as they are developed or as your requirements change—without being locked into one vendor’s platform.

#2 Leverage Meaningful Parking Data

To make parking data work for you, you need a system with an open architecture. This allows for easy integration and easy viewing and analysis of data all in one place. Once the data is all in one place, you need the ability to analyze it for decision making and planning. For example, having parking occupancy data in real time and over a period of time allows you to track peak occupancy times, when vehicles enter a garage or lot and leave without paying, and how much inventory you can offer to aggregators to maximize revenue.

#3 Use Real-time Occupancy Data

Real-time occupancy data is one of the most powerful tools parking managers can have. Furnishing real-time occupancy information to parkers alleviates congestion, gets people to open spaces faster and allows them to get to their destination and go about their business, which makes everyone happier. Real-time occupancy data reduces overall frustration and improves safety in and around parking facilities, and allows parking managers to respond faster to issues and better plan for the future.

#4 Slow Speeding Drivers

Drivers are becoming more aggressive, so you need to plan accordingly, whether that involves placing traffic calming signs for speeders in a garage, sending messages to a sign or an app letting drivers know there’s been an accident, or using radar-enabled signs that automatically alert speeding drivers to slow down, the technology now exists for your organization to be proactive in communicating with parkers. Providing timely information helps calm drivers and reduces frustration, which has a positive effect on safety in and around your parking facilities.

#5 On-site Messaging to Communicate with Parkers

Using real-time messaging to communicate vital information to parkers is an essential best practice in parking facilities management. A simple message like, “Accident: Take Alternate Route,”along with a system that reroutes accordingly can be a great way to ease congestion and enhance overall customer, employee and commuter satisfaction.

By implementing these best practices, you now have a centralized cloud-based system that provides insights into your total parking availability so you can improve the customer experience, maximize parking revenue and plan for the future.

For information on how All Traffic Solutions can work with you to build your custom parking solution contact our parking solutions experts today.

 

SUGGESTED READING

Download the Smart Parking Solutions Overview.

Find out more about ATS Smart Parking Solutions.

Read our white paper  How Technology, Data and the IoT are Redefining Parking Facilities Management.

Open Platforms for Parking Management: Getting the Right Solution that Fits Your Needs

If you’re frustrated about having to use multiple systems to manage your parking availability, guidance, safety and security, access control and vehicle routing—read on. In this post, we’ll talk about what your parking management system can look like today by leveraging an open platform, and show you all that one single parking management system can do for you.


How the IoT Changed Parking Forever

Historically, parking systems were hardware-driven. Whether it was single-slot meters, parking lot access or counting systems, everything was very “closed-architecture”.  No system really talked to another system, so you accessed each one separately—one at a time—and there was no way of connecting any of that information.

About ten to 15 years ago, there started to develop a trend to try to fix that. That trend is the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. IoT essentially means that any device that can connect to the Internet has the ability to capture data, whether it’s your phone, a parking meter or a parking garage gate. We slowly started to see a shift to flexible software mobile solutions, but the key is that they are accessible to the Internet. By being accessible to the Internet, they have the ability to capture and record data so that they can keep it and analyze it over time.

With an IoT-driven, open architecture parking system you can tie all your legacy systems together onto a single, easy-to-use platform that delivers a superior parking experience for parkers, operators and the community.


ParkingCloud™

The ParkingCloud parking management system from All Traffic Solutions uses this open technology for counting, guidance, safety and analytics. ParkingCloud is the only cloud-based IoT platform purpose-built for the parking and transportation industry that integrates all your devices, data, signs and output in one place. With ParkingCloud as your single parking management platform, you no longer have to access each system separately, and you can report on data from all your systems together to give you a holistic view of your entire parking operation.

Let’s take a look at all ParkingCloud can do.

Citywide parking availability gives drivers heads-up parking guidance so they know where to find parking, whether in lots, in garages or metered parking on the street.

Open architecture allows integration with your legacy parking investment so you can continue to use the systems you already have, and can purchase additional systems regardless of what technologies they use without being tied to one vendor.

Provide parking guidance by lot or garage, level or space, including premium spaces. For example, as parkers enter your parking facility, they see a sign informing them of the number of available open spaces—as well as handicapped spaces, visitor spaces, expectant mother spaces—on each level.

Safety measures in and around parking facilities to protect drivers and pedestrians. These measures can include radar speed displays with conditional messaging that tell speeding drivers to slow down and camera-based counting solutions.

Conditional messaging using web-enabled variable message signs directs inbound parkers to facilities with availability (PARKING AT SPRING ST NEXT LEFT), and exiting parkers to less congested routes on entry roads (ACCIDENT ON RT 267– TAKE ALT. ROUTE). Reduces congestion in and around parking areas.

Traffic is routed out of facilities on the fastest routes via heads-up roadside messages. You can even program current travel times to multiple routes and have them automatically update as conditions change.

Access control using license plate recognition, Bluetooth or RFID to help maintain the flow of traffic in commercial and non-commercial facilities.

Trucks are routed to available parking based on remaining drive time hours via their logbook to reduce congestion and idling time (and truck emissions!).

Data and reports are available on demand to help you manage real-time routing and guidance, as well as influence long-term planning. You can run and download the reports in seconds, as well as set up email subscriptions so you (and others if you choose) receive specific reports on an ongoing basis.

Availability data via real-time access for audit and loss control, trend analysis and parker classification.


Open Platform Parking Management is a Game-Changer

When you use the best of the new technologies to optimize parking availability, safety and guidance, the result is a much healthier parking environment. You allow people to get where they need to be faster with no hassle, and you improve the parking experience for everyone. Parking is simpler to manage, more cost-effective and more profitable for your organization.

ParkingCloud does all this:

–Gives you a single view of your entire parking ecosystem
–Allows you to future-proof your investment with an open, extensible platform
–Accommodates your existing infrastructure
–Leverages cloud-based SaaS and PaaS economies so you don’t have to build your own customized solution

Download more information about what parking looks like in 2018.

Visit our smart parking solutions page.

Contact us today to speak with a parking solutions expert.