By Stephanie Santoro

People are attached to their cars. When I was a kid, my dad treated his classic vehicles with such care, you’d think they were giant, rare gems. Even though he has dialed it back a notch these days and has reduced his fleet to one vehicle—a very practical, American truck—he is still just as devoted.

Cars are getting smarter and come with tons of customizable high-tech features that allow us to be even more attached than in the past, but in a different way. We depend on them as much as we do our smartphones. Newer automobiles have a good mix of GPS, Bluetooth, smartphone pairing, and docking stations for various devices; are Wi-Fi enabled; and have backup-monitoring software. The list keeps expanding with upgrades that keep us reliant on our vehicles and connected with the outside world.

Despite all this, you’d think today’s car was well on its way to extinction with the buzz of driverless vehicles in the news. Think about how long people keep their cars and how long a transition to autonomous vehicles would really take, if it ever happens. Ride sharing with strangers, using public transportation, and services such as Uber and Lyft haven’t begun to obsolete privately-owned cars.

Accessibility and a massive shift toward sharing space with each other is what strikes me as the big idea in transportation and parking right now. How are we as parking professionals tapping into that and what can we learn from young people, tech gurus, and entrepreneurs about reducing single-occupancy vehicles? What are the solutions to existing transportation and parking issues?

IPI is looking to college students (the visionaries and parking professionals of the future) to explore these hard questions! Know a college student, professor, or someone with great ties to a university? We hope you’ll share this contest with them. It’s time for the next big idea—we can’t wait to hear it.

Stephanie Santoro manages program marketing and special projects at IPI.