Industry Disconnect: Cutting Edge vs. Reality

By Kevin White, CAPP, AICP

I fear there may be a disconnect developing between a lot of parking and mobility industry discourse around new, “cutting edge” technology and many municipalities and parking operations across the United States and beyond. It seems every time I turn around, there are new vendors and technologies and solutions flooding the parking and mobility market. The creativity and innovation are welcome; new ideas, people, and technologies are essential for continued industry growth and advancement. That said, it’s dizzying at times, and we professionals work to stay on top of all the developments.

New technologies, cameras, sensors, apps, “big data,” “integrated solutions,” curb management, micro-mobility, and other topics have been en vogue in our industry in recent years. We all love talking about and learning about what’s new, what’s cutting edge. These topics are essential, but I fear that industry discussion and solutions being proposed are aimed predominantly at the upper “1 percent” of cities and operators—large, dense, urban, and multi-modal cities or other large operators with dedicated staff, expertise, and resources.

Our dialogue and solutions presume a certain level of parking and mobility expertise, a certain level of resources and operational savvy to even be able to consider or understand the new ideas, new ways of managing curb space or parking and mobility systems, or the new latest and greatest technology.

I think we are failing to speak to the lion’s share of the municipalities and parking operators across this country: the medium and smaller communities that still need to manage parking and mobility systems but do not have dedicated staff, specific parking knowledge or training, or are constrained to complete fundamental management tasks, who may not collect parking and mobility data or even know what to collect or how to use it. These communities may also struggle with limited resources and staff time.

We need to do more as industry professionals to create a dialogue, a message, and a set of solutions that reaches the masses and addresses a range of issues with customized solutions.

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