The changing face of the parking industry

The AJAC Sports Performance Car (over 50k) category finalists - image courtesy of AJAC.

Legislators and commuters have long looked for a solution to congestion in major cities during peak travel times, which can bring a city to a standstill.

However, a huge factor in all that traffic is a lack of adequate parking, and it has been estimated in the International Parking Institute (IPI) 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Study that 30% of cars in city centres are simply circling looking for somewhere to park.

Fuel consumption and the subsequent pollution such places is therefore unnecessarily higher as a result. There are also other factors that interfere with job productivity, such as tardiness due to inadequate parking at, or near, a place of employment. These factors plus an ever increasing focus on reducing greenhouse gasses, it is no wonder the parking industry is seeking hi-tech solutions to an age-old problem.

Parkopedia pushing in-car apps

As the world’s largest developer of parking apps, Parkopedia is now advocating in-car apps that enable the driver to locate where the closest parking spaces are quickly. Working with the American automobile maker, Ford, Parkopedia has developed an app that works with the Ford Sync Applink. Those driving select models, that have Ford Sync Applink built-in, can use Parkopedia in conjunction with the Applink to find the closest parking space to their location. It’s not just car manufacturers, Parkopedia also powers the parking on Apple Maps.

Access solutions for car parks behind shutter doors

Traditionally, in order to open up parking spaces behind shutter doors and gates, the only option was to have the car park manned or to install very expensive access barrier systems. The result was that this was only feasible for large car parks. For those with a small number of spaces it just wasn’t economically viable. However, the invention of smart access solutions for opening and closing shutter barriers and electronic gates is opening up smaller, previously economically unviable, car parks to the public.

The growing popularity of pre-booking

Apps that enable you to find parking spots in real time or in advance are rapidly growing in popularity, assisted by the widespread use of smartphones and the access solution technology which has opened up large number of car parks that you’d only know about by using these apps. The leading sites, SpotHero in the US and YourParkingSpace in the UK, allow you to pre-book parking at car parks and private parking spots, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you have a guaranteed space on arrival.

Smart sensor technology

What many cities have begun doing is installing a device in the ground at parking spaces throughout the city. This is a smart device that communicates with mobile apps when a driver is nearby searching for parking and space is unoccupied. The driver simply clicks on the search feature and the app will locate the nearest parking space that is vacant in real time. Westminster Council in the City of London worked with Smart Parking to install a network of 3,400 in-ground vehicle detection sensors across their on-street parking bays, meaning that drivers in the city can instantly view the occupancy of their on-street parking inventory.

When it comes to the changing face of the parking industry, it’s all about hi-tech solutions made possible by smart technology in conjunction with GPS capabilities. Instead of driving around aimlessly seeking a parking spot, just launch a parking app on your mobile phone, and your phone will then be a liaison between available spots and the driver in need of parking. This is mobile technology at its very best.