By: Brian D. Shaw, CAPP
I would bet we have all heard the old proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention.” During times of crisis, like we are dealing with during COVID-19, humans tend to look for ways to simply survive (reducing expenses, stockpiling food, minimizing travel/exposure, keeping loved ones close) or ways to invent and innovate. The last time the world experienced a crisis of this scale was during World War II, when, out of necessity and survival, several key advances in human development and technology occurred: Radar, nuclear power, wireless communications, jet engines, the Jeep, duct tape, synthetic rubber, rocket engines, mass production of Penicillin, pressurized aircraft cabins, and computers.
We take these developments for granted today, but the necessity to innovate sped them along.
This a time when the parking industry needs to innovate to survive. While many of us have had to go into survival mode (cutting costs, reducing our scopes of work, supporting curbside pick-up and outdoor dining), I would encourage us to also use this time for needed innovation. This is the time to transition to mobile payment and virtual permits to allow for contactless parking. Depending on your setting and customers, your organization could consider the following:
- Cashless transactions.
- Demand-based parking pricing.
- Daily TDM incentives.
- Daily vs monthly parking permits.
- Multi-vendor mobile payment platforms.
- LPR enforcement and utilization.
- Gateless access using fixed LPR cameras.
We can also use this time to learn more about innovations in our industry. Make time for calls with vendors and consultants to talk about what they are working on and what they have learned. Attend webinars when you can and make time for virtual conferences. If you are not able to implement new innovations right away, taking time to learn about what is possible and probable will serve you well in the post-COVID world. IPMI is great place to look for relevant content to keep yourself in the know. Your state or regional parking association likely also has great learning opportunities. LinkedIn also offers video training on several relevant business topics; some are even free.
Finally, now is the time to look at the diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, programs, and training in your organization. During World War II, Black Americans contributed admirably with honor, courage, and grace to defeating fascism even while dealing with prejudice and discrimination on the battlefield and the home front. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly affect communities of color. Those communities are working on the front lines of the pandemic while facing the legacy of systemic racism. Therefore, there has never been a more relevant time to make concerted efforts to address diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns and make needed change. Arguably, addressing systemic racism will be the most significant positive, innovative outcome during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let us all use this time of crisis to make much-needed innovation and allow us to emerge safer and healthier and as advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion.