Five Trends in the Parking Sector
The parking sector has recently been particularly proactive in speeding up the transition to touch-free transactions due to the pandemic. Has this meant that there are new and unexpected trends? Are cities and the parking sector more open to innovation than they were this time last year? And what role does parking have to play in our new reality?
Here are five trends you should keep your eyes on:*
1. No Touch, No Queuing
One emerging trend that has gained traction over the last few months has been the move towards touchless parking. Until the pandemic struck in the spring it didn’t seem a particularly dangerous thing to press buttons on a parking ticket machine, open a shop door by the handle, open the door again and plunge those same fingers into a bag of crisps, transferring the food and a significant number of germs into your mouth. After months of hand-sanitising and touching buttons with your sleeve our previous habits now seem alarmingly reckless. The touch-free parking market has now come into focus with a number of different solutions.
“The touching of buttons when entering a parking structure or queuing at payment machines is inconvenient for customers. For operators increased disinfection measures are both indispensable and time-consuming. “Touchless Solutions that can be instantly integrated into existing systems. Such as License Plate Recognition (LPR/ANPR) or the payment solution by credit card on a pay-later-base are only some examples.” Says Florian Schneeberger Vice President of Marketing, SKIDATA.
2. Park Active and “The last mile”
Park Active is a new initiative promoting and raising awareness of active travel across the UK. The purpose is to encouraging people to use peripheral parking sites that are cheaper and more accessible. It also encourages more active travel options such as cycling and walking to reach their destination. Park Active provides parking operators with a branded, practical framework to enable car parks to offer onward cycling and walking options to city centres, tourist attractions, or large employers such as hospitals.
The British Parking Association has been at the forefront of ensuring that the parking sector takes a proactive and strategic role as the situation evolves and it’s also actively lobbying government and bringing together its membership community in a diverse range of areas in an effort to support lasting positive change. “Active travel offers a socially distanced and healthy way to get around, and the UK government has signalled its desire to boost development through its ‘Gear Change’ initiative, with a £2 billion (€2.2 billion) active travel fund and emergency funding for cycle lanes and pedestrianisation measures during the pandemic,” explains O’Kelly.
However, many of us will continue to rely on our cars for safe travel over long distances, so effective parking management has a vital role to play in enabling active travel, particularly for last mile journeys”, Says Julian O’Kelly, Head of Technology Innovation and Research at the British Parking Association (BPA).
3. The Parking Experience
"Most major shopping centres will have a mobile phone app that gives the opportunity to pre-register your payment details" says Steve Townsend, ANPR Account Manager at TagMaster UK. Steve continues: "As you approach a barrier your number plate will be instantly read with ANPR and passed to the parking system. If you have pre-registered, the barrier will raise automatically with no need for a ticket. This makes parking simple and convenient, improving the customer experience and encouraging the customer to return with confidence. If customers pre-register this also gives possibilities for pro-active marketing, gaining added value from the system."
"Security is also enhanced with car park ANPR. ANPR cameras can integrate to parking back office systems and at the same time link to TagMaster JMS software. This gives on site security the option to run their own database hotlists to alert in real time on identification of a vehicle of interest. Another trend is that VIP plates are registered locally to alert as part of a ‘meet and greet’ or valet parking system. The parking experience has become an important part of the total experience for the visitor and a competitive edge for shopping centres, and this trend keeps growing." concludes Steve.
4. Big technology leap - 10 Years in 10 Months
The parking industry have used modern, easy, touchless, frictionless, pre-paid, free-flow technologies to park for some time. We see more licence plate recognition (ANPR/LPR), pay-by-phone, ‘wave your hand’, Bluetooth, and many other technologies to easily park. The trend is that the industry has probably skipped ahead 10 years in terms of latest technology adoption in the last few months.
ANPR/LPR is by no means a new technology but it is the only solution that allows drivers to enter and exit a car park without stopping without pre-registration, unless using an RFID tag placed behind the windshield. Like every technology, ANPR/LPR is not 100% accurate and licence plates are not always readable, but read rates are normally over 95%. ANPR technology gives best parking experience without touching anything and not even opening the window of their car.
ANPR/LPR also helps parking operations better understand and adapt to parking users’ habits. And it also brings security to any parking facility and many other benefits we all will be happy to have once we are back to normal. ANPR/LPR technology will become one of the driving forces in the Parking sector going forward.
Another important point is the possibility to book an EV-charge slot online and to ensure that the customer has an available slot when arriving, also being able to notify the customer when the vehicle is charged and ready to go. Using sensors in combination with smart phone apps will become a key competitive advantage for Parking Operators very soon.
5. Existing technology, New solutions
New innovative start-ups like Hozah are creating new ways of using existing technology. Hozah’s solution only need access to the Internet, a payment card and an ANPR camera. This is how it works: visit the website, enter your name, the car registration details and a payment card number. The driver does not have to do anything else until they change their car, or the card expires. You drive into an enabled car park, go shopping, return to the car, drive away, and becomes automatically charged for the length of stay thanks to the ANPR system.
This kind of system is particularly relevant for shopping centres, airports, hospitals or in places when you do not know exactly how long you will be staying and don’t want to feel any stress. Another bonus of implementing a touchless system is that higher penetration of enabled car parks equates to higher compliance to parking regulations and thus longer lengths of stay and, crucially, higher revenue generation.
“The touchless parking system we have installed allows drivers the opportunity to experience fully automatic, frictionless parking and is another step towards making Coventry City a truly connected Smart City. This is the safest possible way to pay while at the same time, leading to higher revenue generation for Coventry’s local economy.” Says Paul Bowman, Coventry City Council’s parking services manager.
About TagMaster’s Free Flow Solutions
TagMaster’s solutions involve automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), Long-Range RFID technology, or a combination of both. Among the many advantages of each of these technologies is that vehicle authentication happens automatically and provides free-flow access. This means that drivers have safe and free flow-access to the premises.
TagMaster parking and access solutions help minimize the cost of owning and managing the Automatic Vehicle Identification solution (AVI). Our solutions require little to no maintenance, saving the operator from hidden maintenance and repair costs, often associated with many other solutions. TagMaster have over 25 years of experience and knowledge within ANPR technology and Long Range RFID Readers. Our solutions are known to be easy and quick to install and set up, and therefore the first choice among installers and integrators.