By Kevin White, AICP

As businesses and cities reopen from various restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is uncertainty in how various sectors will fare and how customers and visitors will react. If your operation hasn’t already adopted a philosophy of data-driven management, the time is now to embrace analytics and key performance indicators as a core part of your operation.

A data-driven approach to parking and mobility management involves collecting, summarizing, and analyzing data on infrastructure and user behavior to guide and inform the management of parking and mobility systems and assets. The benefits of a data-driven approach are numerous:

  • Provides clear metrics (key performance indicators) that serve as markers for making modifications or implementing new policies or practices.
  • Aligns parking management with real-world conditions and user behavior, providing a more customized approach and a higher level of service.
  • Enables flexibility in parking management as conditions change and evolve over time.
    Improves operational transparency and support with the public as decisions are based on objectivity and a clear framework.

A variety of parking operations technology including mobile payment, modern meters, license plate-based enforcement, PARCS, cameras/sensors, and others can provide a variety of insights into on- and off-street parking behavior. Useful data includes parking occupancy, parking duration, meter and mobile payment transactions, citations, permits displayed, and others. Analyzing data across different locations, days, and times, and comparing separate datasets helps identify relationships and patterns. Also, the increasing importance of curb management has catalyzed the importance of inventorying the makeup of curb space and leveraging monitoring technology to understand how curb space is used for passenger and goods loading and unloading, beyond standard parking sessions.

Lest you become awash in a whole bunch of useless data, it’s worth carefully considering your operational capacity to collect, summarize, analyze, operationalize data. What types of data streams do you already collect, or what can you get easily? Do you have the internal capacity to integrate data collection and analytics into your operation?

Creating a data-driven framework plan for guiding your operation is the first step. This plan should articulate the what, when, who, where, why, and how of your operation’s use of data.

Kevin White, AICP, is a parking and mobility consultant with Walker Consultants.