By Tracey Bruch, CAPP
Every organization that has participated in parking demand studies realizes how important it is to have accurate and representative data as a benchmark. When developing project management schedules for such studies, providing a cushion of time for the unknowns is wise. Due to a variety of factors, data collection is by far the most problematic component of the study.
There are significant technology resources available to assist with data collection, including Lidar (light detection and ranging), LPR, GPS, and UAV (unmanned aircraft vehicles—drones). Studies to locate and map on-street inventory, loading and no-parking zones, bus stops, passenger loading, bike racks, etc., are great examples of how GPS with field mapping apps and UAVs are used.
Using UAVs to collect data is efficient and saves time in the field but does not offer the luxury of sticking to a schedule when inclement weather is a concern. Fog and rain are factors that can ground a flight. Weather can also be problematic to the good old-fashioned method of tracking data by walking the streets, trusty clipboard and clicker in hand, but the job still gets done.
Data for parking utilization is important based on the day of the week and time of day. When weather disrupts the UAV schedule, not only can it push the project back by up to a week or more, there is an added cost for re-mobilization.
Technology is great for many components of a utilization study but a place still remains for data collection that requires a greater level of visual verification that new technology is not yet capable of managing. These delays must be considered as the project is managed.