While ambitious urban parking development projects seek to make life easier for residents and reduce the growing stress of parking in large cities, together they bring to light one of the most common pitfalls in smart parking management: Integration compatibility.
However, any progress made towards the ultimate, unified goal of perfect parking management is still worth noting. But is the scope of current projects too broad for the future they are designed for?
FordPass invests in apps to make customers' lives easier
The Ford Motor Company is hoping its new customer app will do for car owners what iTunes did for music fans, according to a press release from the company. The app – called FordPass – will include mobility services, guides to help with parking reservations, loyalty recognition and a direct connection to the company's latest innovations via FordHubs.
FordGuides will work by connecting a FordPass member to a live chat representative who claim to solve mobility issues and are able to reserve parking in advance.
Ford is also hoping their virtual wallet, FordPay, will make it easier for the public to pay for parking, by connecting with online parking guides and booking agents to make everyday life more convenient. But the FordPass will need to be integrated with parking machines to allow for easy and simple use – if it can only be used to pay for parking in designated areas then it defeats the purpose of an all-in-one solution.
Google Maps makes parking easier, but not in real-time
A new beta version of Google Maps is attempting to reduce congestion in cities by reducing the challenges to parking motorists experience. Included in the newest version of the app is a small 'P' emblem that indicates whether an area's parking is 'easy', 'medium' or 'limited'.
According to the International Parking Institute, over the course of 12 months, drivers in a 15-block area of Los Angeles collectively put over 1,528,800 onto their odometers – just in the process of looking for parking spaces. To put it another way, the distance is equivalent to around 38 trips around planet Earth.
However, the Google Maps update is aimed more at reducing congestion through user commonsense than assisting with discovering free spaces or streamlining parking management. As parking data is not collected in real-time, the accuracy of parking information is limited. Without real-time data, the best that can be hoped for is no longer spending hours circling the same square block of road with fingers crossed for space.
The Google Maps update – if paired with real-time data collection – could be a strong contender for travellers and tourists. PEMS can already tell how many spaces are available using sensors. Forward-thinking professionals agreed that the implementation of integrated 'smart technologies' that could record user data in the street and transmit it back to administrators, officers and management teams for use in better organising and maintaining CBD parking will ensure increased turnover, improved parking availability and the reduction in traffic congestion.
Today, it is widely recognised that accurate and timely data is the key – technology that can capture, collate and transmit occupancy and congestion data in real-time is the solution to all of the above issues, facilitating the following:
- Accurate, real-time occupancy data can populate smartphone applications and roadside digital signage, and direct drivers quickly and efficiently to available parking
- Guiding drivers to unoccupied spaces minimises driver frustration, reduces driver distraction that can lead to accidents and cuts the amount of time vehicles need to circle, and the pollution they create doing so.
- Vehicle turnover can be optimised by a significantly more efficient and effective enforcement team who are directed specifically to overstay vehicles via live data feeds to their handheld devices (and not distracted by checking vehicles that are legally parked).
- Real-time, accurate data enables council engineers to implement dynamic, demand-driven traffic management that further reduces congestion and frustration.
- Early adopters of these concepts, such as the City of San Francisco, see the significant benefits offered by accurate, real-time data. San Francisco's problems with frustrated drivers, traffic congestion, and 'vehicle to pedestrian/cyclist' accidents are significant, and any ability to improve the management of city parking assets/programmes and direct drivers to available parking spaces will provide dramatic and long-lasting benefits for all stakeholders.
Integrated parking programmes, such as those seen in North Sydney, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have highlighted the core requirement to facilitate the reality of the provision of accurate and real-time parking data. Though meters, sensors and handhelds that can transmit parking and enforcement information in real-time are commercially available, they have developed as individual products with separate back-end management systems and databases, and integration is limited.
Regardless of the individual technology products employed, it is simply not possible to realise the significant benefits outlined above without a sophisticated integration engine, supporting real-time, graphical user interfaces and a powerful reporting capability.
How PEMS solves integration issues
These latest news developments share a single, common thread: while each aims to better the lives of citizens, the lack of scope means that ultimately, in at least one area, they fall short of achieving total integration into a city.
The FordPass will need to be integrated with parking machines to allow for easy and simple use – if it can only be used to pay for parking in designated areas then it defeats the purpose of an all-in-one solution. The Google Maps update – if paired with real-time data collection – could be a strong contender for travellers and tourists.
Duncan Solutions' PEMS is designed in-house, which means it's customisable to allow for greater integration of third-party equipment, sensors and payment options. Recently, PEMS has seen deployment in Macau to great reception and success. To learn what PEMS can do for your parking and city management infrastructure, get in touch with our team today.