Why Parking Issues Should Matter to Cities
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Why one city decays and another thrives can sometimes seem random. So, trying to foresee downrange why the future will happen in City A and not City B is hard. Moreover, to imagine that there is one formula that all 7.8 billion of us should adhere to, wherever it is we live, is clearly nonsensical.
In our work, we study, research, and rank places to determine what the best practices are to increase economic prosperity, social equity, and quality of life. Ultimately, the question we want to answer is: What is it that makes a city a place of the future? In our research, one thing has become clear to us: next-gen talent is the fuel for the future of place. And by extension, jobs of the future will happen in places of the future.
Digital twins and AI analysis would offer significant benefits to organizations across all sectors. By providing a comprehensive look at a geographical area and its infrastructure and assets, these technologies will enable smarter and more targeted field planning optimization. It could help digitize field surveys, offer new levels of remote engineering access, and enable contact tracing around COVID-19.
The focus will continue to shift away from the data itself and towards its relationships. The connections between data are where the most powerful insights lie. With enough data points, organizations can look to analytics to better understand the context and “see” the future.
AI at scale and emerging data technologies truly illustrate this connectivity and potential. Although it’s an emerging field, the benefits are limitless.
In my business, we’d rather not be right. What gets a climate change expert out of bed in the morning is the desire to provide decision-makers with the best available science, and at the end of the day we go to bed hoping things won’t actually get as bad as our science tells us. That’s true whether you’re a physical or a social scientist.
Well, I’m one of the latter and Meeting of the Minds thought it would be valuable to republish an article I penned in January 2020. In that ancient past, only the most studious of news observers had heard of a virus in Wuhan, China, that was causing a lethal disease. Two months later we were in lockdown, all over the world, and while things have improved a lot in the US since November 2020, in many cities and nations around the world this is not the case. India is living through a COVID nightmare of untold proportions as we speak, and many nations have gone through wave after wave of this pandemic. The end is not in sight. It is not over. Not by a longshot.
And while the pandemic is raging, sea level continues to rise, heatwaves are killing people in one hemisphere or the other, droughts have devastated farmers, floods sent people fleeing to disaster shelters that are not the save havens we once thought them to be, wildfires consumed forests and all too many homes, and emissions dipped temporarily only to shoot up again as we try to go “back to normal.”
So, I’ll say another one of those things I wish I’ll be wrong about, but probably won’t: there is no “back to normal.” Not with climate change in an interdependent world.