Why Parking Issues Should Matter to Cities

By Thomas Hohenacker

Thomas Hohenacker is the CEO of Cleverciti Systems.


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As cities look to plan for rapid population expansion, and to make the most out of their infrastructure, one of the first places they might focus on is parking. An increasing number of cities have started to eliminate minimum parking requirements for developers, aiming to increase walkability and decrease car dependency.

This trend brings to light the problems with existing infrastructure. The need is to establish a highly functional and efficient parking management solution that ensures resident satisfaction and utilizes the existing parking lots and on-street parking throughout the city.

 

The Metropolitan Parking Picture

Parking can be a daily struggle for some, as in attempting to find a nearby yet affordable space to park for work in an office building. It’s also a problem during particular occasions, as hundreds gather around a few blocks or streets for a farmers market or holiday festival.

But, perhaps surprisingly, the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of parking lots available in cities. For example, one study shows that there are 2.2 million total parking spaces in Philadelphia and 1.85 million in New York City.

The problem lies in the way that these spaces are typically managed, which is proven to be inefficient. Drivers are often left frustrated and spend too much time searching for a spot, due to lack of immediate awareness of where spaces are open. Reliable, real-time data that allows drivers to choose between on-street parking, surface lots or garages is not available.

By bouncing between lots and garages that are full, drivers become restless and may choose to park illegally or leave altogether, creating a loss for the city in more ways than one.

 

The Importance of Guidance

Implementing an integrated, intelligent parking management solution allows cities to make the best use of their most valuable asset.

The most important aspect of achieving a streamlined parking experience is real-time guidance to all parking options and reliable, live information and updates. If a driver travels downtown and is looking to park somewhere central for a day of shopping, he or she must be made aware of which public on-street parking, surface lots, or garages are full before taking the time to search them for an open space. Sensors installed on light posts can provide an immediate overview of the occupancy of parking in the city, allowing drivers to make well informed decisions when navigating the lot and surrounding street parking spaces.

This type of live monitoring is especially beneficial for cities when they’re host to a particular event. A garage, lot or street can be controlled based on specific parameters, such as the price and duration, while also creating certain restrictions as necessary.

 

Serving Residents for the Greater Good

The technology solutions that exist for managing municipal parking must coincide with the desire for city officials to improve the process. Cities increasingly care about their parking situation for a number of reasons.

 

Revenue

Deploying a cost-effective parking management and guidance solution ultimately generates more revenue for a city, as existing parking spaces are properly monetized. Drivers are more motivated to pay for a spot when they know they’ll be able to find it quickly, without having to circle around in vain. The awareness by drivers that all spaces are monitored by a modern system further increases the understanding that it is fair to pay for the valuable public space and service.

An example of this type of monetized parking policy at play can be seen when we take a look back at the history of Old Pasadena, the original commercial center of Pasadena, a city in California. The city installed parking meters in 1993 to improve its on-street parking situation, with a promise to use the meter revenue on public investments in Old Pasadena. Improvements to sidewalks, alleys and streets were made, while more customers were drawn to the area due to the regulated curb parking.

Service

Utilizing the Parking as a Service model is paramount for businesses and retailers, but its principle applies to cities as well. Officials should aim to provide residents and visitors with a stress-free, enjoyable experience, not one that is compounded by obstacles when trying to enter and exit the city.

Parking as a Service is driven by the deployment of innovative technology, which is typically seen in smart parking services. The Smart City of Dubai, for example, leverages sensors on lampposts to detect 1,100+ spaces in the World Trade Centre District and Sheik Zayed Road.

Public Perception

The general perception of a city is impacted by its traffic and parking conditions. More people are likely to choose to spend their time and money in an urban environment where they know their parking concerns are understood and addressed.

A building in the Galeria Kaufhof Shopping Center in Cologne, Germany, for example, reduces parking search traffic in the entire city’s center and sustainably improves quality of life by utilizing a long-range parking sensor at the facade of the building.

As cities continue to thrive and population increases bring newer parking restrictions, it’s inevitable that managing parking in these locations will only become more critical. By applying the time and effort to invest in a solution that takes advantage of the space that already exists and simplifies the overall experience, urban areas can achieve one of their most important goals: happy citizens.

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