Portrait of driver smilingBy Nick Mazzenga, PE

Believe it or not, the parking industry was ahead of the curve when it came to the transition to a more frictionless environment using contactless technologies. COVID-19 only added  fuel to the fire to accelerate more widespread adoption of frictionless-enabling technologies. The parking technology industry was ready and poised for just such an event, and it responded very well. A frictionless parking experience, though, is in the eye of the beholder, and not every parking system needs to be–or should be–completely frictionless; there is a time and place for everything. The technology benefits and upfront costs are considerations that can help determine the appropriate application of frictionless parking applications.

As traditional parking demands change, so do the systems used to enforce parking management. Capitalizing on technological advancements and addressing all vendor and user types, a frictionless parking system minimizes shared user interaction by using equipment and devices to initiate or end a parking session automatically. Drivers can access a facility or on-street curbside parking space by way of license plate readers, AVI/RFID, bar codes, or QR codes, Bluetooth, or other identification enabling technology.

Compared with traditional parking systems, a frictionless parking system may require significant upfront design and infrastructure costs to make everything work seamlessly for the user. Amazon and other online retailers have done much to make our online shopping experience as frictionless as possible–but for all that friction that is removed from our end, there is a commensurate level of friction that occurs behind the scenes to make our shopping experience as seamless or frictionless as possible.

With the possibility of more efficient curb and parking space management, smoother parking operations, and an overall enhanced user experience, frictionless parking not only modernizes our parking landscape, but also facilitates convenience for an often-cumbersome process.

Nick Mazzenga, PE, is an associate with Kimley-Horn. He’ll present on this topic during this afternoon’s IPMI Webinar, Frictionless Parking–Smoothing Out the Edges for a Seamless Mobility Experience (1 CAPP point). For details and to register, click here.