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.