MOBILITY & TECH: Parking Technology: Key Steps to Selecting Technology

By Michael Drow, CAPP, PMP, and Blake Laufer, CAPP
A PARKING OPERATION WILL NEVER BE AT A LOSS to find technologies to implement in a facili­ty. However, not every technology is appropriate for every location, regardless of how innovative the technology might appear. The following steps will assist an operating team to understand theirs and their customers’ needs and to identify the technologies that fill the needs:
Understand operations today and in the future.
• Define customers today and in the future. What are their transportation and parking needs? Remem­ber parking is just one step on a person’s journey; parking is not the destination but rather a transition point from driving to some other modality. Does the facility support office workers in the building or in buildings in the area? This drives whether custom ID credentials should be supported or not. Does the facility support local attractions and events on the weekend? This might indicate the desire to support online marketing firms that will generate electronic barcode permits or LPR based credentials.
• What types of businesses might need access to the facility? Does the organization support down­town-based universities or a convention center that requires dedicated access to specific spaces? Is there a business in the building that has a large number of daily guests who may desire the ability to park near an elevator (i.e. a nested area)? Does the operation serve a medical facility with a ­greater-than-mandated requirement for disabled spaces?
• What type of parking and transportation services will the operation offer? Will the facilities allow rideshare vehicles to drop off and pick up customers? Are car-share services parking in the facility? Do companies rotate a fleet of vehicles across several facilities? Will amenities like EV chargers be provided?
• How will customers interact with facilities? Will the organization have a mobile website that allows customers to search and pay for parking online? Will the operation work with third -party marketing and ticketing firms? How will customers access the facility—will they use-barcode, license plate, toll tag credentials?
• What data is required to manage the operation? To share with others? Data examples include occu­pancy, pricing, enforcement, and access credential details with building security or hotel
• Are there operational or financial constraints? Everyone wants to implement the best solution, but most live with budgets and need to prioritize their wants. Will the management team have the resources to support a new technology? Are the necessary IT resources and maintenance resources available to support the technology?
• Develop a roadmap or timeline highlighting when key park­ing and transportation services will be started or launched. When will the valet service start? When does the operation intend to work with the local restaurant for validations? When will the new building security system be installed that provides one access credential to the parking and building? Understanding when these operational services will launch is a key step in defining priorities for technology. It is likely that the services will be introduced over time. Documenting the rough timing will help to prioritize and sequence a facili­ty’s technology needs.
• Identify the technology need to support the rollout of the ser­vices. Evaluate the technology needs for each service. Identify the technology that needs to be implemented first to support future services and understand the relationships and depen­dencies of the various technologies being considered.
• Adjust the plan to match service launch with technology needs and the financial and operational constraints. This brings the desired plan in line with the realistic plan that considers financial and operations constraints. The ability to be objective will ensure a successful plan can be defined. With a successful plan, the probability of delivering innova­tive solutions on time and on budget increase significantly.
• Taking the time to develop a technology road map will prove to be invaluable. Understanding the services an operation wants to deliver for its internal use or to support customers more effectively, will make it much easier to identify the technology needs. Once an organization understands the technology needs to support its operation’s goals, a manag­er will be able to prioritize the selection and implementation of technology solutions in an orderly fashion. More import­ant, the plan will ensure that the sequence of technology implementation is correct and that the technology solutions are effective and support the organization’s goals. 
This is excerpted from A Guide to Parking, the industry’s first comprehensive textbook, published by IPMI and Routledge Publishing, and written by top experts in mobility, transportation, and parking. It’s available on Amazon.com.
MICHAEL DROW, CAPP, PMP, is senior vice president, corporate development, with T2 Systems, Inc., and co-chair of IPMI’s Parking Technology Committee. He can be reached at michael.drow@t2systems.com.
BLAKE LAUFER, CAPP, is founder of Mistall Insight, and co-chair of IPMI’s Parking Technology Committee. He can be reached at blake@mistall.com.