Another busy day at the IPI Conference & Expo gave attendees a glimpse into the future of parking, an afternoon of business on the _EST1799Expo floor, educational sessions, and plenty of opportunity to network, network, network.

The morning kicked off with the 2013 IPI Awards of Excellence presentation, where outstanding parking facilities and operations were honored and applauded (see more on this in the June issue of The Parking Professional, arriving in your mailbox soon). This year’s awardees included garages that showcase innovative design, out-of-the-box thinking, and sustainable solutions that make sense, along with operations that have overcome tremendous challenges to serve their communities and keep people moving.

The room went silent after that as attendees were held rapt by Mary Smith of Walker Parking Consultants, a top expert on parking and transportation, who talked about “Game Changers.”

“Parking has changed more in the past 10 years than in my previous 28 in the industry,” she said, attributing that to changing trends in car ownership rates, growing cities, and other factors. She pointed out reasons why parking is not, as some believe, the root of urban sprawl issues, and said that while efforts to change the perception of parking through alternate uses can be good, they’re not always executed in the wisest fashion.

_EST1882Downtown garages that lease their spaces out for weddings and other events, she said, are “touted as great shared use, but it’s not appropriate to take spaces out of use for parking when they’re needed most.” Instead, uses such as farm markets during the day (when spaces aren’t in as much demand by restaurants and other businesses, can be a better use.

Smith spent some time talking about “peak cars,” which is a peak in vehicle ownership forecast to happen in the next several years, as millennial generation members (born after 1980) eschew individual car ownership in favor of car share programs and public transportation. She also talked about the next generations of technology for cars, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and driverless cars, including some that may fly.

Following her presentation, attendees enjoyed an afternoon networking and exploring new products, services, and technologies on the Expo hall floor, attending educational sessions in five tracks, and exchanging business cards, handshakes, and conversation in the halls of the convention center.

The IPI Conference & Expo wraps up today with the final Expo hours, a lunchtime presentation by marketing expert Bill Smith, and the closing event that’s sure to be fast-paced and thrilling!