Tag Archives: TPP-2013-02-

Establishing a New Technology

TPP-2013-02-Establishing a New TechnologyBy Clyde Church

We are usually skeptical when a new technology arrives in our industry. We wait to see if it will live up to its developers’ claims and who adopts it first, and then listen for unanticipated problems and risks in deployment. When we select new technologies, our reputations and profits are on the line. With these risks in mind, what characteristics do we look for to determine if radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is real, proven, and mature? Can we improve the bottom line if we invest now? And if it is ready, how much improvement should we see when we deploy it?

Let’s compare RFID to the evolution of other technologies. Historically, new technologies have evolved in an orderly manner, one step at a time (think electricity before the light bulb, the wheel before the automobile). Sometimes the steps are large and most often, there are thousands of smaller intermediate steps that take us from one major invention to another. When an invention is very good and there is an economic motivation for broad use, the market requires competing technologies to create standards to increase interoperability and minimize user risk. We set association standards, national standards, and, very frequently, international standards for the new development. We see this in all fields of human endeavor such as the brightness of brake lights on vehicles or the height of headlights measured from the ground.

RFID Evolution
RFID technology has been on this path of evolution and standardization for quite some time. During the past 15 years, passive ultra high frequency (UHF = 915 MHz) RFID technology has grown from a scientific curiosity to secure robust proprietary systems. Because of slower than expected adoption of proprietary systems, the companies with competing technologies agreed to consolidate them from multiple protocols into one open international standard that has been adopted around the world.

RFID technology has continued to improve because of an agreement between the major industry developers and manufacturers that was drafted in 2005, when the air-interface protocol was included as an amendment to the ISO 18000-6C standard; it was was fully adopted the following year. This agreement and prior adoption of the air interface protocol by the Electronic Protocol Global Organization finally buried the technological hatchet between competitors and allowed the RFID industry to provide tags, readers, and antennae that would be interoperable between suppliers.

Since then, Class 1 Generation 2 (C1G2), electronic product code (EPC) 18000-6c compliant tags and readers have been adopted and specified by Wal-Mart and other retailers, the U.S. Department of Defense, and many inventory and asset tracking companies. The state of Georgia uses them for high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane applications at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour. In addition, several South American countries have adopted them for managing gasoline distribution systems, vehicle registration, and grain transportation. Hoboken, N.J., and other cities in the U.S. have adopted the 18000-6C-based technologies for parking because of the costs, security, and interoperability between suppliers. Other business and standards organizations have adopted the C1G2 – ISO-180006C standard to ensure a long life for the standard and protect their investments in software, tags, and hardware for many years to come.

Consider the scale of RFID investment in both increasing production capacity and adding new features to standard tags to meet new needs that were unanticipated when the standards were established in 2006. Because of the international standards and the broad worldwide adoption of this technology, universities, semiconductor companies, inlay manufacturers, label manufacturers, and software developers have continued to pour research dollars into the open architecture C1G2 (18000-6C) technology to add features that are consistent with the standards and meet the needs of new and demanding applications. An example of increased investment in RFID is the continual parade of new chips introduced by Alien Technology, Impinj, and NXP Semiconductor; each generation offers added features to the basic C1G2 ISO-18000-6C standard.

RFID technology is really just another high-tech power tool and, like any new tool, incorporates new features that increase its power, versatility, and product lifespan. Remember that with each new technological tool comes a whole booklet of warnings and instructions on how to use it. RFID is no different. You need to carefully plan RFID implementations to fully use all of its features and help boost your bottom line. It’s important to budget plenty of time to implement, research, and run pilot tests of readers, antennae, and software. Every dollar spent planning will avoid mistakes that can be far more costly than the expense of proper planning.

During this phase, be prepared to be flexible while testing and building the controls and reports to maximize data availability from the RFID system. Structure the software and reports to create new insights to your business and how it really works versus how you think it should or does work. The questions you ask and the information you compile will provide new opportunities for your operation. Here are some sample questions asked by operators who have already embraced RFID:
How many weekday parking slots are open and what time of day do patrons exit the facility?

Are people parking in your garage on an hourly basis, reducing potential long-term contract revenue and leaving parking slots open most of the day?

Are economy parkers using premium slots?

Can you sell premium event parking in the evenings and if so, when?

Several new passive RFID installations have already demonstrated increased customer satisfaction and convenience by streamlining entry and exit throughput at the gate from an average of 250 cars per hour—with printers and scan on exit—to 1,200 cars per hour with RFID.

Throughput optimization and cost reduction are the key parameters to profitability for any organization collecting revenue from vehicles and drivers. PDQ Manufacturing found this out when they added RFID access control to their line of car wash equipment. PDQ was an early adopter along with Cruz Through Car Wash in Bakersfield, Calif. Both companies increased customer loyalty and reduced their numbers of cash register transactions with RFID-enabled contracts for service. Others have won business loyalty by providing express VIP lanes for RFID users only.

Expanding Business
There may be opportunities to collaborate with local restaurants and theaters to provide special event parking that uses an RFID system to keep things moving. You could use your monthly invoice to advertise local parking specials in the evenings and promote parking during off-hours as well. Sharing data can create value for others and create potential collaborative income.

Not only have RFID reader and tag technologies matured, but the knowledge and experience of systems integrators and consultants has also grown. They have deployed thousands of projects in diverse industries and applications. These system integrators and suppliers are willing to be your technical safety net, information source, and an extension of your organization on your RFID project.

RFID 18000-6C tags come in many different formats and materials just like the options available with a new car; some tags are made out of expensive hard plastic while others are preprinted and programmed thin film labels with security slits. Whatever type you select, run the numbers and consider the features, options, and the security level you really need and are willing to pay for.

C1G2 passive (18000-6C) open architecture RFID is ready for prime time parking and revenue management if you are ready to put in the necessary planning. As Barbara Chance, Ph.D., president and CEO of CHANCE Management Advisors, Inc. said, “If you think you are ready for new technology, think again.” The technology is there, but it still needs to be applied properly. The time and resources you spend planning the details, testing systems, developing report outputs and conducting pilots, will pay off in improved visibility, profitability, and long-term success.

Clyde Church is RFID customer engineering and sales manager at Metalcraft RFID. He can be reached at 970.259.2143.

TPP-2013-02-Establishing a New Technology

Plow Planning

TPP-2013-02-Plow PlanningBy Phill Sexton

If you are a parking facility manager in a region that gets any amount of snow and ice, you probably already know that your risk and liability increase during the winter. While February may seem an odd time of year to begin the planning and qualification process for improving next season’s snow operations, research indicates the best approach for planning next season is while you are experiencing this season.

As a proactive way to help you reduce your risk and liability and improve your planning process for next year’s operation, the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) has created Best Practices Guidelines. These guidelines are relevant to follow whether you perform the service yourself or outsource it.
Beyond the necessary insurance to protect you against liability risk, in-house operations and vendors both benefit from a detailed snow site engineering plan and site inspection process. These plans help you manage safety, risk, and environmental health.

Snow Site Engineering Plans
These plans assist you in identifying your snow removal priority areas. In other words, they define what areas of your parking lot(s) should be cleared first, second, third, etc. This is particularly helpful when responding to heavier storm or blizzard conditions.

When identifying priority snow removal areas, be sure to include items such as the location of fire hydrants, emergency exits, emergency egresses, and access to utilities. Your snow site engineering plan also needs to identify where the plowed snow is to be piled relevant to sight line issues, handicap parking areas, and drainage locations.
Other criteria snow site engineering plans should identify include:
Bulk salt loading and storage areas. If you store bulk salt, it should be located in a covered area on an impervious layer to prevent salt waste and runoff.

Allocated snow storage areas for snow relocation on-site. When seeking a storage area for snow on-site, you want to avoid locating snow piles where they will create parking lot drifting and/or visibility issues. Find designated areas where piles of snow won’t create melting and re-freeze issues. For example, whenever possible, you need toavoid locating the snow at the top of a parking lot slope, particularly if that slope is designed to pitch or drain to a catch basin.

Areas for snow to be stored if hauling off-site is necessary. When you relocate snow, be certain the snow storage locations have been approved by the necessary local or state agencies. Be careful to avoid relocating the snow near sensitive waterways or water systems where increased salinity levels from salt might become an environmental concern.

No-snow areas. Avoid blocking catch basins and manhole covers. Be certain to pay particular attention to parking deck drains where flooding can create extreme ice and load conditions.

Site Inspection Process
This process refers to evaluating the site to determine whether expectations have been met and to manage liability risk. To obtain an unbiased inspection, typically the person inspecting the snow removal site should not be the same person performing the snow operations process.

Your inspection process should answer these key questions related to the snow site engineering plan:
Are top-property areas clear of snow and ice by the expected time? If not, why?

Were emergency exits and fire hydrants areas cleared within four to six hours following the storm?

Are all drains and manhole covers clear of snow and ice so they won’t create flooding?

Is there damage to address? This may include damage to light poles, signage, walkways, curbs, safety bollards, etc.

Planning vs. Expectations
Planning for the necessary resources in a snow operation can be very tricky business primarily due to the variability of conditions and expectations. First, you need to understand cycle time and the estimated capacity and costs necessary to minimize safety risks, while also meeting your client’s expectations.

Cycle time is simply the amount of time it takes you to meet plowing expectations. A typical expectation is to have primary lots and walks clear by 7 a.m. If a snow storm or squall begins at 3 a.m. and produces two inches of snow per hour for two hours (four inches total), a 7 a.m. all-clear expectation requires your staff or vendor to have the proper equipment and manpower to cycle through the entire parking area and walkways in two hours.

If you expect to meet the 7 a.m. deadline, you have to clear all parking lots and walkways within one to one-and-a-half hours. This also means de-icing operations can only take about approximately 15 minutes. This example illustrates the cost and response risks you share with clients, and other vendors and subcontractors.

When developing estimates, professional snow and ice managers use systems and tools to calculate the required resources and costs for a particular site. Part of this evaluation is based on surface area and time calculations. For example: A snow contractor calculates that an eight- to nine-foot plow can clear two inches of snow at an average rate of one hour per acre, three inches of snow at 90 minutes per acre, and four inches at two hours per acre. Depending on specific expectations of the site related to tolerance levels for accumulation and time of day, a four-inch event may need to be cleared up to three times. Therefore, expectations have a direct effect on the estimated cost and responsiveness.

You can verify the capacity of planned equipment and manpower based on the estimated resources using an average two-inch cycle time requirement. For example, if you have an eight-acre lot using the same storm scenario of a 3 a.m. start time and two inches of snow per hour for two hours, three trucks with eight- to nine-foot plows are necessary to complete the required cycle time expectation of “all clear” conditions by 7 a.m.

If you are paying a vendor on a time and materials basis (T&M), it may seem more cost effective to agree on the less expensive hourly rate for use of trucks, or renting a smaller, less expensive piece of equipment if you are performing the service yourself. In markets known for heavier accumulating storms (even if only one or two per season), it is wiser to make the upfront investment for larger equipment that can cover more surface area in a shorter period of time. Even if larger equipment is double the hourly or rental rate, it will save you money in the long run. These cost savings add up in time, loss, and liability.

Enormous budget variations are often the case for snow removal. Parking professionals in areas that experience inconsistent snowfalls, such as those in the mid-Atlantic states, only plan for three to five events equaling 10 to 15 inches of snow annually, and aren’t prepared to deal with heavier-than-average storms that might occur every few years.

From a cost standpoint, you benefit when you budget and equip for above-average conditions, even when there’s only a small chance of a heavy storm or years with little to no snow. Over the course of five to 10 years, the cost of not being properly equipped far exceeds the cost of always being prepared with the proper capacity of equipment and human resources. While average size storms might only require half the amount of cost and resources, most areas expect you to be in a state of readiness for the worst weather. This requires you to plan for the proper response planning and allocate the appropriate funds to meet the worst-case preparedness scenario as illustrated in the Snow and Ice Management Cost and Capacity Curve.

Storm Response Planning
Your storm response planning needs to include contingencies for a variety of weather events and natural disasters. In addition, it needs to include snow storms or blizzards as well as other cause and effect conditions that may occur because of the initial snow. These events may include:

Road closures. Consider what may occur if heavy snow closes roads and designated resources and snow removal vehicles aren’t able to get through.

Power outages. Think about your plan in the event there are power outages that cut off communications or prevent refueling of vehicles.

Ice conditions/freezing rain. Draw contingencies in the event there are icy conditions or freezing rain. Consider changes to de-icing materials depending on the weather conditions.

Holidays. Think through what you might need to do if you experience a heavy snow or blizzard during a holiday when only minimal crews are scheduled to work.

Emergency incidents. Determine a plan of action to be implemented when it’s snowing during a fire or medical emergency that requires immediate and uninterrupted access.

Communication, Documentation, and Verification
Whether you manage a snow operation or hire a service provider, simple and consistent planning for communication, documentation, and verification is important to have for managing expectations, and are critical for liability and risk management. New technologies including GPS, smartphones with cameras, and other off-the-shelf systems provide quicker and easier ways to communicate, document, and verify service.

The simplest form of communication is a phone tree. We suggest establishing a minimum of three forms of a communication for three people who represent the site, and three people who are responsible for the work to be performed. In total, there should be six people listed with their cell/text, office, and home phone numbers.
Most snow removal professionals document and verify their snow removal process using a service report for each storm. These reports should include the start and end time of the storm, site conditions, weather conditions, amounts of accumulation, and the snow removal services performed. You and your service providers need to sign off on each service report to verify timing and the actual services performed.

Phill Sexton is director of education and outreach for the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA). He can be reached at phill@sima.org or 414.375.1940.

TPP-2013-02-Plow Planning

Forward Thinking

TPP-2013-02-Forward ThinkingBy Chris Gray, PE

Leaders in the county of Berks, Pa., understands the importance of long-term maintenance and doing things right the first time. In the spring of 2011, the county set out to undertake a large restoration project for its main office/courthouse building. The Berks County Services Center, a 16-story office building built in the early 1990s, features four levels of underground parking and was built with various structural elements including filigree, which is a combination of precast concrete planks and reinforced concrete topping.

The initial construction of this facility faced many administrative and technical challenges, resulting in a final product that fell below industry standards for new construction. Furthermore, as with many parking structures of this age, a comprehensive repair and maintenance program was not in place from the time it was built. This combination is a recipe for disaster, as the building declined at more rapid rate than is normal for a parking facility.

Fortunately, the county recognized this and began to allocate appropriate funds to sufficiently restore the facility and take steps towards appointing new personnel to manage and maintain it. These steps showed a renewed commitment from the top down to restore the condition of the garage and transform the facility into a more attractive, safe, and welcoming place for courthouse employees and visitors.

Getting Started
The county’s facility and maintenance personnel quickly realized that the parking garage, which serves as the foundation of the entire facility, was on a fast track to disaster without a comprehensive repair and maintenance program.

Extensive investigative work resulted in the finding that significant structural improvements would be necessary to stop the garage’s deterioration and repair damage already done. The initial assessment uncovered cracking on the top surface of the concrete beams that had resulted in overstressing of the beams and excessive deflection of the structure. The first priority, then, would be to strengthen these beams. Finding the cracks wasn’t all bad as it turned out—their discovery spurred the county to retain a garage restoration specialist, and they were eventually found to be symptoms of many of the issues later discovered during the garage assessment.

Excessive cracking of the concrete surface had led to the accelerated deterioration of embedded structural reinforcement, and ultimately excessive deflection and spalling (chipping, flaking, and scaling) of the concrete. The surface cracking created a direct pathway to the structure’s embedded reinforcement for salts/chlorides to penetrate. To holistically repair the parking garage and ensure the repairs would stand the test of time, it would be necessary to prevent salts/chlorides from getting in and doing even more damage.

The project included reviewing various options with the county to determine the most cost effective long-term maintenance plan to address salt/chloride penetration in the concrete surface. Ultimately, the county decided to follow the recommendation to install a traffic deck membrane on the entire supported floor surface. While initial costs would be higher with the application of a traffic deck membrane than with a traditional silane sealer application, the long-term costs when considering slab replacement and/or demolition that would be necessary for the sealer option or continued apathy would be significantly less.

The repair program included addressing long-overdue life safety, durability, and structural and aesthetic improvements. Some of the existing conditions requiring repair included deteriorated concrete, trench drain repair, cracked piping, exposed electrical conduit, and flaking paint around sprinkler piping. The county understood that these repairs would improve the patron experience (i.e. make their employees happier), while minimizing their own personal liability (i.e. improved structure and reduced potential for slip-and-fall). What’s more, the implementation of these repairs would put money back in their pockets in the long-run. Sound like a win-win-win scenario? That’s because it was!

Phasing it In
Once the necessary repairs and estimated costs were determined, the next consideration was scheduling repair implementation. To offset some of the higher initial costs, the project included the development and implementation of a repair program over several years that would have minimal effect on day-to-day use of the facility. However, the county opted to bite the bullet of higher initial costs and implement the gamut of repairs in one shot. This resulted in a more seamless repair operation, and minimized potential headaches created by a years-long schedule, not to mention savings due to a single mobilization instead of several.

One drawback to implementing the repairs all at once was that the county would need to temporarily relocate parking within the facility—approximately 300 employee spaces—to complete the repairs. Fortunately, replacement employee parking was secured at a reasonable rate from the adjacent parking authority. Lesson learned: No matter what your occupation, never underestimate the importance of establishing a good relationship with your local parking authority!

After determining the repair program, budget, and schedule for repairs, the county chose to move forward with the development of repair documents for bidding and oversight during construction. Experts worked closely with the county to determine operational needs. For example, a police sally port for prisoner booking and a judges’ area for secure access to the courthouse required accelerated repair to mitigate potential security concerns.

The county accepted bids in February 2012 for general, mechanical, and electrical construction services under a multi-prime contract. Contracts were awarded in March and work was completed in October. Despite encountering some unforeseen conditions, such as an existing snow melt system that did not match as-built documents, the determination and creative thinking on the part of the project team have kept repairs on-budget and on-schedule.

The county is currently implementing additional repair programs for facade improvements, as well as plaza improvements under separate contracts. It goes to show that a motivated owner who understands the importance of a comprehensive maintenance and repair program will make the right decisions and save a lot of headaches in the long run.

Chris Gray, PE, is a project manager at Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc. He can be reached at cgray@timhaahs.com.

TPP-2013-02-Forward Thinking

Absolutely Automated

TPP-2013-02-Absolutely AutomatedBy Iris Sharon

The City of West Hollywood, Calif., is undertaking a capital improvement project to develop premiere public facilities, parks, and open spaces. The 25th Anniversary Capital Project, launched in 2009, includes three major components. One of them is the West Hollywood City Hall Automated Parking Garage and Community Plaza project.

Automated parking garages use robotic devices that lift, transfer, and store vehicles in high-density storage vaults (see the September 2012 issue of The Parking Professional for more on this technology). Automated vehicle storage and retrieval systems (AVSRS) rely on technologies similar to automation used in automated storage and retrieval warehouse (ASRS) facilities worldwide.

The Challenge
The City of West Hollywood’s City Hall parking lot is under-parked to code. City Hall employees currently use the 166-space Kings Road parking deck two blocks away. That garage is usually at capacity by 11 a.m. on weekdays, forcing city staff to use valets and stack parking.

For the new facility, the city required 200 spaces on a 194 by 120-foot footprint with high vehicle throughput for patrons. Together with Don Monahan, P.E., of Walker Parking Consultants, city staff considered and evaluated several options to address parking shortages at City Hall and in the mid-city area, including:

A standard above-ground multi-level parking structure. The conventional multi-level parking structure option was too big for the site. The structure would come within 10 feet of the property lines and its resulting height would effectively block natural daylight from both the surrounding residences and City Hall.

A below-ground/above-ground multi-level parking structure. This solution resolved concerns for building height, but the size of the structure was still too big for the site. This option was also determined to be cost-prohibitive.

An automated parking garage. The footprint for the automated garage is 40 percent smaller than a conventional, multi-level parking structure and it needs less space to meet the same parking requirements on a 150 by 80-foot footprint. The building size for the automated garage provided more open area around the structure, which allowed for larger setbacks from adjoining neighbors and the street; retaining more natural light inside City Hall; and providing room to address deliveries onsite, relieving traffic congestion caused by loading and unloading in the street or parking lot. The automated garage allows sufficient extra open space to create a community plaza within the site for City Hall visitors, community events, and other public uses.

In late 2010, after the city decided to move forward with the automated garage solution, a request for qualifications was issued; the city received 11 responses. Those were reviewed by Monahan and the city’s design team, and six companies were deemed qualified. In February 2011, the city invited those six qualified companies to submit bids for the design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance of an automated parking garage. This process allowed the design team to customize the building to fit the unique requirements of the selected automated parking system supplier.

In June 2011, the city selected Unitronics and signed an agreement for the design and construction of the automated parking garage.

The Solution
The selected solution is a five-level automated parking system consisting of four UniDrive™ entry/exit rotating bays, three UniVator™ elevating lifts, six UniParker™ conveyance shuttles, and Unitronics’ Automated Parking Management Software (APMS). The system is designed to process a peak two-way traffic flow of 111 vehicles per hour.

One hundred twenty of the 200 spaces in the parking garage will be reserved for city employees; the other 80 will be open for visitors to City Hall and nearby stores and restaurants. Parking will be free for City Hall visitors.

Some of the concerns raised with fully-automated parking garages involve system and electric failures. In the case of the West Hollywood garage, avoiding delays during failures is achieved by several backup systems; for example, a backup generator will be activated in case of an electrical failure. In addition, solar panels located on the City Hall roof are expected to power the automated garage and some City Hall electrical needs.

By working closely with the city’s fire, building, and safety departments, project architect LPA Inc., and Unitronics addressed potential structural and life safety concerns. Through this process, the companies were required to make some changes in the garage design to comply with Los Angeles County Fire Department requirements, such as fall prevention and chimney effect. A three-foot lane between vehicles allows firefighters access to all vehicles, which will be parked with their engines facing access lanes for the same reason.

Attractive and Green
The automated parking system structure design allowed the architect flexibility in designing the façade for the garage and use a variety of materials, including steel, concrete, and some recycled materials.

The centerpiece of the garage is a glass shaft that allows people standing outside the structure to see the vehicles inside move. This addition will surely add to the excitement of having a fully automated garage at City Hall. One side of the structure that fronts a busy street is expected to feature public art by Ned Kahn, who is known for creating artwork that incorporates the use of natural elements such as wind and light.

The automated parking garage offers a green and economical parking alternative to a conventional multi-level parking structure for city staff and visitors. The amount of reduced CO² emissions in the automated parking structure equates to removing 92 vehicles from the road each year or planting 67,000 trees.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2013 and be completed by fall 2014. The total cost will be $16 million, which will be paid for out of the city’s parking improvement fund; $2.6 million of that cost is for the automated system.

When comparing construction costs between a conventional multi-level parking
structure garage and an automated parking garage system, the automated system has a big advantage when the developer is dealing with smaller footprint or when excavation is needed to comply with parking requirements. In above-ground, standalone projects, the total costs per stall are almost the same. A conventional multi-level parking structure for an under-building, below-ground solution is more expensive than the automated parking system (see tables).

As shown in Image 2, the conventional multi-level parking structure garage consumes almost the entire site. Because of required setbacks, the entire lot could not be used for the garage. There is a residential neighborhood to the south with only a 9-foot setback to the five-level garage. Additionally, the right side of the garage was only 10 feet from the City Hall building, blocking the view and light for many offices. The loading dock access problem was not entirely solved.

The automated garage required only 60 percent of the footprint of the conventional multi-level parking structure garage, which led to a 20-foot setback to the residential neighborhood to the left and allowed for a 27-foot wide landscaped civic plaza between the garage and city hall. There was a 41-foot setback created off of Sweetzer Avenue that provided a motor court for police and city vehicles while allowing trucks to pull in and back to the loading dock without affecting the automated parking access on the lower left side of the site.

Iris Sharon is marketing manager, Unitronics Systems Inc. She can be reached at iris.sharon@unitronics.com or 201.592.1444 x7503.

TPP-2013-02-Absolutely Automated

Total Revolution

TPP-2013-02-Total RevolutionBy Dennis Carter and Clarence W. Kemper, Jr.

Parking technology: where is it heading? Everyone wants to go faster and be greener and more efficient. The parking industry is incorporating and adapting new technologies to meet the needs of the industry and the public.

Mechanical to Digital
Over the past decades, parking control systems have transitioned from mechanical, electro-mechanical, and electronic-only to computer-based systems, with access and revenue management software offering central reporting and control of a facility.

This offers the ability to provide enhanced functionality and handle scenarios such as credit card in-credit card out, debit cards, etc., in real time. New generations of IP-based addressable “smart” equipment are able to report their operational status and be controlled via Ethernet networks and existing internet infrastructure. These technologies also allow the support and monitoring of multiple facilities across town, around the country, or across the globe. Wireless communications are also playing an ever-increasing role, although reliability can still be an issue.

Another benefit of this digital world is the ability to integrate other technologies and related software programs such as building security, energy management, and others to outside reporting and accounting packages.

Cash to eMoney
eMoney (electronic payment) is a non-cash payment that is exchanged electronically. It involves the use of a computer network, the internet and, in some cases, stored value systems. This takes advantage of varied and new technologies, with use and acceptance starting in Europe in many cases.

eMoney does have costs associated with processing fees, but generally these are less than cash handling. It is also a more secure payment method with greatly-reduced possibilities for theft over a cash-based system.

The most widely-used media for electronic payment is the credit/debit card. These can be accepted in most locations, even as payment on-the-go with the addition of card readers that attach directly to many smartphones and use the cellular network for communication to a clearinghouse. This combination allows customers to pay for any good or service anytime, anywhere.

To provide added security, some credit cards are also incorporating electronic chips (contact or contactless) with on-board memory that can be read and written and offers higher security levels.

Mobile commerce, sometimes called m-commerce, is a growing area of technology without a lot of standards yet. The concept is that the smartphone device you’re carrying can also be used to make payments for all kinds of goods and services. Most commonly, the device is used as a credential that is linked to a credit card or bank account from which funds are drawn and transferred to the merchant (parking operation). In a few rare cases the charge may appear on your cellular phone bill. Sometimes the payment application is generic and can be used for any purpose, while in other cases the payment is tied to a transaction in parking (such as pay-by-cell). Pay-by-cell merges the phone with contactless credit card and gives you the ability to communicate with devices locally (similar to Bluetooth).

A smartphone can be used to display an emailed barcode that can be used as an access credential or validation coupon. This allows for faster payment processing and greater convenience.

Long-Range RFID, LPR, and NFC
Access control tags have taken several leaps over the past decades with the creation of RFID (radio frequency identification) proximity cards and readers. With improvements in both tag and antenna technologies, read ranges can be inches or feet depending on the application for standard RFID, or ten to 30 feet for standard AVI (automatic vehicle identification) tags.

Take it a step further up the technology ladder: Long-range RFID transponders are used for electronic toll collection (ETC) in several toll road systems. The EZ-Pass system is used by many states in a consortium along the northeast I-95 corridor. These highway toll tags are also being accepted for payment by some major airports.

Some toll roads have eliminated toll booths in favor of license plate recognition (LPR) systems, which match the tags to owners for monthly billing by mail.
Transponders and LPR are streamlining parking operations. They reduce labor costs, decrease the chance of fraud, and increase revenue and efficiency. Many access control tags are tied to credit cards.

Near field communications (NFC) uses a low-power RFID chip that transmits a unique code. The phone then becomes a credential that can be used for mobile payments, access control, ticketing, and information exchange. This requires a voluntary gesture that protects data privacy. NFC will play a much bigger role in the future.

Parker Communications
The ability to communicate with parkers used to mean having a phone-based intercom substation in a lane. IP-based intercom and video systems now allow higher levels of security, central management of several facilities (see p. 22 for more information), and color graphic messaging, offering better communications with the parker and advertising and revenue opportunities.

Parkers can be reached by social media, mobile apps (see the February 2012 issue of The Parking Professional for more on this), and device-based messaging. Websites allow parkers to find and purchase parking in advance of their arrival. Real-time transportation information from GPS devices or smartphones is also growing in popularity.

On- and Off-Street Parking
Some cities are starting to manage parking with a variable pricing model, which allows operators to set lower prices during off peak times during the year and increase prices during high peak times. By collecting space occupancy data, a city can determine its actual high and off peak times. This model incorporates real-time space sensors, off-street pricing, PARCS, and enforcement in a unified system.

On-street parking is also becoming high-tech. Single-space meters can take credit cards, making payment easier. The multispace meter reduces both the hardware and the revenue collection time and personnel needed. A pay-and-display multispace meter typically manages 15-20 spaces and is great for short-term studies of parking use.

Valet parking uses wireless hand-held terminals to speed operations. Some systems use Bluetooth and barcode scanners that provide a more effective way of to manage valet parking operations, prevent the loss of vehicles and keys, and cut costs associated with bogus damage claims. Barcoded tickets, employee badges, vehicle identification numbers, and color sheets track the date and time of check-in/checkout, automobile information, and employee data. Because each scanner works like a wireless point-of-sale computer, it can also offer remote cashiering and the ability to request vehicles.

Video Analytics
Video analytics uses special software to “see” motion of vehicles or people, the direction of traffic flow, congestion, and abnormal behaviors of individuals such as people crouching behind vehicles, as well as abandoned object and shape-based object detection and tracking.

Wayfinding Technology
Signage helps customers make efficient decisions about parking. Individual space detection requires a sensor in each parking spot with a red/green indicator light that shows occupancy. The indicator lights may be over each space or as part of an indicator bank at the end of the bay. The sensors also communicate in real-time to a back end server.

Zone counts reduce the number of required sensors (lowering cost), but providesless accuracy. The parker will know there is a space somewhere in the zone, but not exactly where, resulting in more traffic circulation. The zone needs to be audited regularly or the public loses confidence in the information.

Ticketless LPR Technology
Automated license plate recognition (ALPR) camera systems are used to scan and record vehicle license plates. ALPR systems can either be stand-alone or integrated into access control or revenue parking systems. Integrating allows for revenue to be associated with a vehicle instead of a ticket, which may be lost or swapped. Maintaining vehicle and plate images along with their time and date stamps allows for accurate resolution of ticket discrepancies, improved customer service, and prevention of lost revenue.

ALPR is a game changer that offers opportunities for improved physical security. It can capture license plate data and verify it against known lists to ensure vehicles are not suspect or wanted before being allowed into a site.

An ALPR system can also capture all vehicles, time and date stamps, and locations, allowing for improved asset utilization, reduced cost, and greater data accuracy.

Green Lighting Technology
Over the years, there have been several advances in lighting technology. Many garages still rely on an amalgam of high intensity discharge (HID) lamps that have very high lumen output but include a distinct set of drawbacks, such as high mercury content, low energy efficiency, short lifespan, high rate of light depreciation, susceptibility to vibration/climate, and poor quality of light.

So how do you brighten up your facility and reduce energy consumption by 30 to 85 percent? Some choose fluorescent lighting because of its attractive low first cost and because the newer T8 and T5 technologies stay brighter longer and the light will maintain most of its luminosity throughout its rated life. Many choose lower maintenance induction and LED technologies, which address the previously mentioned shortcomings of HID lamps without sacrificing performance.

The key to a successful lighting project is to install a demonstration field, which will help you see the performance of your options.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows a tax deduction of $.60 per square foot for energy conservation measures that reduce energy demand by 50 percent or more from established standards. Projects must be complete by end of year 2013 to enjoy the benefits. (See the March 2012 issue of The Parking Professional for more on this.)

In Conclusion
These are only a few technologies of today that are helping cities, management companies, airports, hospitals, and universities run more efficient parking operations. New technology will help parking organizations meet and exceed their goals and the expectations of their customers.

Clarence W. Kemper, Jr., is general/sales manager, St. Louis Trading Area for SKIDATA, Inc. He can be reached at clarence.kemper@skidata.com or 314.546.5550.

Dennis Carter is regional sales director for Good Earth Energy Conservation. He can be reached at dennis.carter@goodearthec.com or 706.945.3345.

TPP-2013-02-Total Revolution

The Power of Observation

TPP-2013-02-The Power of ObservationBy David Cummins and Ellen Isaacs

Breakthroughs are often born in the lab or boardroom, but they live or die in the real world where people determine their value through real use. Xerox has employed ethnography for many years to gain a better understanding of human behavior in naturalistic settings, and now we are applying it to parking and parking enforcement. Our field research plays a critical role in rolling out new services and solutions, as it reveals unforeseen human variables that do not surface in the lab, in computer simulations, or in surveys and focus groups.

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which is wholly owned by Xerox, works with commercial clients to help them focus their product concept to reach the proper audience, sometimes after the original product concept missed the mark. We are currently working with public sector clients that include those managing parking for a city. PARC’s ethnography team directly observes people in the market to understand what they’re doing and to identify hidden unmet needs. When you watch people carefully, you notice that they often work around problems without even realizing it; these invisible obstacles represent potential opportunities for novel technology solutions.

Some business thinkers are skeptical of this hands-on approach because it takes time and there’s no guarantee we’ll find the key insight that will transform their thinking or product concept. Although Xerox has, over many years, proven that this approach is well worth the investment, PARC has developed a rapid ethnography method that generates more focused findings in a compressed timeframe—generally, one to three months. In the last few years, PARC has applied this rapid ethnography method to projects in healthcare, transportation, and mobile communication, all of which generated specific, long-lasting benefits.

Some of the most fruitful ethnography projects have involved parking. For whatever reason, parking seems to evoke some of the more interesting behaviors in the human repertoire. The following examples showcase how rapid ethnography research is helping uncover innovative solutions to simplify and improve parking enforcement as well as the way people find and pay for parking.

Parking Enforcement Observation
The Parking Solutions unit of Xerox asked the PARC team to explore using historical data on parking violations to predict where they would likely occur and create a system that would provide parking enforcement officers with turn-by-turn directions to these potential violations. This was the technology concept proposed, but as you’ll see, the field study suggested several alternative areas for innovation that would transcend the initial concept and solve other observed problems.

The PARC team shadowed three parking enforcement officers (PEOs) in two cities and videotaped them as they worked. One city had already installed a system with sensors in parking spaces that could guide officers to real violations. As we systematically reviewed and logged the video footage, we gained a richer understanding of their everyday practices than we could pick up during the original observations. We also noticed some of those inevitable obstacles the officers were working around.

For example, we learned that PEO beats are often small and the officers who are
responsible for patrolling those beats become intimately familiar with the streets, so providing turn-by-turn directions to violations has limited utility and is possibly even patronizing. This observation steered Xerox away from spending time and money developing a myopic turn-by-turn system. Instead, our focus shifted toward developing a dispatch and communications tool for enforcement managers, supervisors, and officers (which led to further ethnographic research to understand that domain).

In addition, we noted that the original technology concept was aimed at helping officers notice more meter violations (such as expired meters), but there seemed to be a bigger opportunity in supporting the enforcement of time-limited parking (such as two-hour parking). These zones are more labor-intensive because they require two trips to the same street at different times, yet they yield far fewer tickets. This two-pass effort could be reduced if cars could “know” when they arrive and communicate it to the PEO’s device as he or she drives by, enabling enforcement of any street in a single pass. Based on this finding, we are working with engineering researchers in our organization to brainstorm ways to enable one-pass enforcement.

This type of two-tiered outcome is common. We try to address the clients’ explicit questions about their technology concept, but we also look for hidden opportunities that go unnoticed until you observe people doing their work (or play).

LA Express Park
Shifting gears, let’s take a look at parking from a commuter’s point of view. For most drivers, the cost of parking is a moot point when they are wasting time and gas cruising for a parking space that doesn’t exist. We all know this feeling. And if you’re a local business, low parking turnover can translate into less foot traffic, directly affecting sales.

Last summer, a PARC-Xerox team observed parking behavior, conducted driver interviews and surveys, and even participated in parking activities ourselves in four downtown Los Angeles districts. This was in support of the LA Express Park project run by the city’s Department of Transportation. We spent the bulk of our time standing on streets or in parking garages as we watched drivers using meters, workers making deliveries, and officers issuing tickets. Respondents were encouraged to complete the surveys through incentives such as paid parking and gift certificates to local shops.

More than half (59 percent) of respondents knew the price per hour at their meter. More than half (60 percent) were also aware that parking prices might be different close by. However, very few drivers realized that “close by” sometimes meant as close as across the street. Also, few respondents were aware of existing smartphone parking applications that could help them find and pay for parking. Discussions with these respondents revealed that they were interested in learning how to use these apps to plan for parking and avoid parking tickets.

Xerox researchers developed an algorithm that helps Los Angeles make educated pricing adjustments in real time based on demand, time of day, and other factors. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is now seeing a higher utilization of parking on each block, reducing traffic congestion and pollution generated by drivers hunting for curbside parking. Drivers are also taking advantage of a parking app that helps them identify open parking spaces as they become available. Once again, our observations provided us with the insights we needed to develop proper solutions and effective public communications.

Time Versus Value
Time will always be a concern for clients who are under pressure to produce products that will succeed in the market. Yet in these cases the effect of the ethnographic work had long-lasting effects that more than justified the month or so of effort (which was done in parallel with the rest of the team’s activities). In both cases, Xerox avoided spending a lot of time and resources developing a solution that was not likely to have success, and focused its efforts in a more productive direction.

PARC is able to produce these results in a short amount of time for a few reasons:
All the ethnographers who participate in these studies are highly trained and have a lot of experience analyzing observational data to extract findings to inform technology development.

We take steps to keep the lines of communication open during the project rather than delivering results at the end.

We increase the effect of the findings by producing video podcasts that show, rather than tell, the client about key user behavior and illustrate how our conclusions are based on systematic analysis of our direct observations. These podcasts tend to get shared beyond the original clients to other stakeholders in the organization who influence decisions.

Still, there’s no doubt there are limitations to Xerox’s rapid ethnography approach. If you spend relatively short periods of time doing intensive observations and analysis, you simply can’t expect to gain a deep understanding of the many facets of a complex activity, you can’t be sure your findings are representative of a broader market, and you might base conclusions on a distorted picture of the activity you’re observing. We mitigate these concerns, however, by validating our conclusions with experts and by following up with quantitative methods.

In these cases, Xerox’s investment in ethnography had paid off by identifying issues and opportunities that traditional indirect methods would not have picked up. Companies that want to be competitive in industries with rapidly evolving products can’t waste time pursuing unproductive strategies, and we believe it pays off to spend a little time up front to save time later.

Ellen Isaacs is a user experience designer and ethnographer at Palo Alto Research Center. She can be reached at engage@parc.com or 650.812.4000

David P. Cummins is senior vice president of parking and justice solutions for the Xerox Transportation, Central and Local Government Sector. He can be reached at TLGmarketing@xerox.com or 214.841.6111.

TPP-2013-02-The Power of Observation

Taking Command

TPP-2013-02-Taking CommandBy Mark Wright

The line was growing by the moment. Six cars ahead, a driver—who had overlooked or ignored the “pay before you leave” signs—puzzled over the ticket slots and buttons at the exit gate kiosk. As moments turned into minutes, waiting drivers’ hands started inching toward their horns. One exasperated driver finally sprang from his vehicle and waved frantically at the garage staff sitting in their closed-door office 50 feet away. An attendant emerged and walked to the gate blocker to resolve the problem, as tempers and radiators approached their boil-over temperatures.

That scenario could have played out much differently had the garage been served by a command center system. A sensor would have flashed a heads-up to command center staff, who would have quickly made contact with the confused driver via an intercom at the gate, explains Michael Drow, CAPP, senior vice president, technology integration, Standard Parking, and Blair Taylor, senior vice president, Focus Point/Central Parking.

Chicago-based Standard Parking completed its merger with Nashville-based Central Parking in October 2012. The company’s Focus Point remote parking management service provides a command center operation for more than 200 of its properties in the U.S., along with multi-tiered third-party management solutions to client facilities.

“Some locations have a higher level of technology than others,” says Drow. “At those that are more basic, we can monitor an intercom call. At the more advanced sites, we can remote-in live to the system and see what’s going on with the customer’s access or credit card and determine whether they’ve paid, so we’re seeing data on the screen that tells us what’s transpiring in the lane. By understanding what’s going on with the system, we can provide customer service while protecting the garage’s revenue.”

Blair explains that Focus Point essentially focuses on helping property owners achieve their goals in three key areas: revenue enhancement, service level improvements, and cost reductions.

Centralized command centers have been used in Europe for at least 15 years, Drow
says, but have just caught on in the U.S. over the past several years, particularly in campus environments. “Universities and airports have had these for quite a while,” he notes.

Indeed, Texas A&M University transitioned to a command center approach several years ago after extensive field research. The university maintains more than 34,000 parking spaces and five parking garages on its campus.

“We saw a number of sound (command center) examples when conducting site visits among our parking peers and gained great insight and ideas as to what works,” says Doug Williams, director, transportation services, Texas A&M. “We started with an on-site security booth at our first garage. As we increased the number of garages, we quickly learned the expense of re-creating the effort for each facility. We were able to combine five garages into one response facility for all garages. We saved $500,000 annually in security officer charges once implemented.”

Today, Texas A&M’s command center staff has the ability to view all garages and gates. At the same time, several pan tilt zoom (PTZ) cameras on high buildings allow them to view broad areas of the campus. The cameras and intercom systems can all be viewed and operated online.

“We also upgraded our multiple PARC systems to a unified T2 FLEX system,” explains Williams. “Everything has to be network accessible and have the capacity necessary to conduct business. For example, we currently use 150 terabytes of storage for our video system.”

Command centers reduce labor expenses and provide better customer service in garages, especially those that are automated, says Drow. “The Focus Point Command Center is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and it’s a 24-hour operation. We can see exactly what’s happening with a ticket. At any given time, we have 15 people in our command center, plus we have a wall of monitors. We can see traffic lane cameras all around the country and we can detect a backup before a customer even calls us on the intercom.”

“We’re our clients’ eyes and ears,” Blair adds. “Their people can’t be there all the time, but we can, and we detect problems before they escalate. We can actually call the customer on the intercom to ask if they have a problem. A driver might be sticking a credit card in the ticket slot or vice versa, but our system enables us to respond as if we’re standing right next to them.”

Command centers can also leverage technology to ensure that revenue is being captured after staff goes home, Drow says. “At a lot of facilities, the gates go up and people go home when the business day is over, but with our system we keep the gates down every day 24/7. That means higher ticket capture—customers can’t just wait until your staff leaves and then exit without paying.”

Of course, some customers will push the envelope. Texas A&M found that its command center provided a secret weapon against customer protestations: data.

“There is an amazing amount of data available,” notes Williams, “and everyone in the department has access to it. Customer challenges based on falsehoods often result in hasty retreats when they realize we have so much data at our fingertips. We can create very customized access solutions for a wide array of customer challenges.”

Collecting and analyzing all that data also facilitates predictive problem solving, says Drow. He says each call from a Focus Point-managed facility is monitored, and information about each call is entered into a database for tracking. Too many calls of a certain type from a particular garage precipitate a diagnostic and decision-making process.

“Maybe that facility needs better signage or different equipment, for example,” he says. “We can see what’s happening and make a decision on how to best address the problem. With our knowledge base and our working relationships with various control system manufacturers, we can determine which ones have the best fit.”

Drow says the company also makes a full suite of back-office services available, including accounts receivable, validation fulfillment, statement preparation, reporting, and more, all from its centralized office. “The ROI for equipment, automation, and management is very attractive,” he says, adding that it normally offers cost recovery within two years from labor savings, synergies, and captured revenue.

Making it Happen
Moving to a command center approach takes time and planning. “A project of this scale can’t happen overnight,” says Williams. “It has taken years to put together the system we really wanted. Additionally, we keep reinvesting as technology improves.”

Moreover, adopting new technology and integrating systems often brings surprises. Williams says building the university’s IT network and infrastructure with dedicated fiber and necessary bandwidth was critical, yet also posed intermittent challenges and delays. One of the primary issues they faced during the initial transition to centralized command was “networking older analog camera systems into a new digital world,” he says.

“It takes some time to get operations converted and upgraded to a point where the system meets everyone’s expectations,” he explains. “The technology initially chosen didn’t perform to our expectations. It took several reiterations and a number of years.”

Other transition issues include determining how best to use technology effectively, making sure communication is seamless (so the customer won’t know he’s talking with someone 2,000 miles away, for example), and learning new procedures.

“We’ve made a serious investment in procedures and training and technology infrastructure to support different operations around the nation,” Drow says. “We had to be able to support any revenue control system—there are seven or eight providers out there today—so we had to develop procedures to work with all those.”

Williams also notes the importance of training. “There is a learning curve when
moving from individual stations to a centralized command center,” he says. “It wasn’t a matter of retraining [staff] about how to handle business, but rather helping them to learn efficiencies so they became adept at handling the increased volume caused by having all intercoms and camera images monitored at the same time from one location.”

Benefits and Cautions
Williams says Texas A&M has realized a number of benefits since its conversion to centralized command. While the command center approach “is not cheap, the benefits make your entire organization better.”

He says the advantages include clearer and less frequent audio communication as the equipment and processes become more reliable; multiple redundant methods for controlling gates so every gate in the system can be raised from one command during an emergency; improved recording of audio, video, and transactions; and improved reporting of events/incidents.

“Our camera system is often used by the police to address problems in real-time or playback events,” he says. “With enforcement and customer service folks using the same data and equipment, customer service has increased and enforcement is more effective.”

He says the university posts signage in all the garages to inform customers that video cameras are in use.

The command center approach isn’t necessarily ideal for every parking operation. “Scale is the key,” says Drow. An operation needs to be able to invest not only in technology infrastructure but also in training so staff will have the competencies they need to handle customers’ questions and issues.

Blair added that for its part, Focus Point isn’t a one-size-fits-all service. Some operations want and need a human presence, while others are more suited to automation or some mix of the two. He says the level of intensity can vary, and they might simply provide off-hours monitoring if that’s all an operator needs.

“We adapt our services to the facility,” he says. “Each one is unique.”

Mark Wright is contributing editor to The Parking Professional. He can be reached at mark@wrightscontent.com.

TPP-2013-02-Taking Command

Here Comes the Sun

TPP-2013-02-Here Comes the SunBy Mark Botts and Isaiah Mouw, CAPP

The American road system is breaking. As materials age and wear from weather, time, and traffic, the infrastructure suffers breakdowns. Traditionally, a patch-and-repair method has been applied to the problem, but that solution lacks the ability to keep pace with decay. And if that’s not enough, add cost to this equation: in December 2007, a ton of liquid asphalt—the primary product used on roads—cost roughly $175; at press time, that figure had escalated to $592. From 1998 to 2003, highway spending from the government amounted to approximately $80 billion per year, and has risen significantly since then. It seems that in the near future, it may become too expensive to use the current method of laying and repairing roads.

Enter Scott and Julie Brusaw. Their answer: covering the nation’s roads with solar panels that can be driven on, creating the Solar Roadway™, which they say is a progressive solution that promises to help lives, budgets, and the environment.

The Brusaws are currently testing road surfaces comprised of solar cells. Each solar road panel is made of three basic layers:

Glass. Inspired by indestructible airplane flight data recorders (black boxes), the Brusaws searched for a glass material strong enough to withstand the most severe highway accidents. They found it and, after many tests, they now have a glass with enough traction to withhold a semi-trailer locking up its brakes and screeching to a halt.

Electronics. This layer controls a heating element to melt snow or ice, embedded LEDs that provide lighting, communication through microprocessors, and monitoring to create an intelligent highway.

A base plate. This layer collects the sun’s rays (gathered in the electronics layer) and distributes them to homes and businesses that will be connected to the solar highways that help power other commodities—cable, internet, lights, heating, and air.

In August 2009, the Solar Roadway™ project was awarded a $100,000 research contract from the Department of Transportation to compile academic research and build a prototype. Two years, later Solar Roadways™ received a follow-up contract of $750,000 to build none other than a solar panel parking lot.

The Solar Roadways™ team is striving to make their products as green as possible. They are working to incorporate recycled materials such as glass and plastic and to make the panels recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. Each panel is expected to last about 20 years, mainly because the solar cells start to lose their effectiveness after that much time. Panels can either be refurbished with new state-of-the-art solar cells added, or recycled into aggregate to use for new panels or as a base layer for new construction. Scott Brusaw estimates that even using conservative calculations, if Solar Roadways™ replaced all of the paved surfaces in the lower 48 United States, they could produce nearly three times more power as is currently consumed in the country each year.

This method of energy production would be cleaner and more cost efficient, the Brusaws say, than our current system, and there are aesthetic benefits as well. The Solar Roadway™ relies on load cells and other sensors that transmit information to a microprocessor, which uses LEDs to create messages and alerts for drivers. For example, if an animal or pedestrian ran onto the road, the sensors would detect the weight and flash a warning to oncoming traffic, resulting in safer travel conditions.

If an accident rendered a panel or several panels useless, the remaining panels would transfer data around the damaged spots, creating an instant detour for drivers. The solar highways would also be a modular road, connecting like a Lego set. And with power lines gone and buried in the ground to be connected to the smart roads, the landscape could regain some of its natural splendor.

“The Federal Highway Administration is encouraged by the modularity of the system,” says Scott Brusaw. “They’ve learned that we’re losing about $165 billion a year from you and me sitting in traffic jams due to road repairs. That’s loss of productivity—gas is just burning for no reason.” The ability to quickly replace damaged road sections could drastically cut down on maintenance time and get traffic moving again much faster.

He says the roads will also reduce the amount of fossil fuels required to fuel our transportation fleet: Electric vehicle owners will be able to plug up and charge from parking lots and rest stops. Taking it a step further towards technology currently in development, electric vehicle owners will eventually be able to charge their vehicles while they drive on without even plugging in.

The Parking Lot
“Conventional wisdom about our industry being part of the sustainability problem is being turned on its head as we take a leading role in advancing sustainability on college campuses, in downtowns, and event and shopping venues around the world.  And for the parking industry to continue to make strides towards a more sustainable future we must capitalize on knowledge transfer from other industries and efforts like the Solar Roadways project.”
– Casey Jones, CAPP, IPI chair

Outside their laboratory in Idaho, the Brusaws are building the first solar parking lot. Constructing the parking lot in their own backyard will enable them to monitor the technology in a controlled environment at all times. They will present some of their findings at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale in May (visit IPIConference.parking.org).

There are many benefits to a solar parking lot, the Brusaws say, and energy production is where it begins. If a Wal-Mart, for example, were to invest in a solar parking lot, the Brusaws estimate that lot would produce more than 10 times as much energy as the Wal-Mart uses in a year—and that’s with vehicles parked in the parking spaces. Many parking lots will be able to generate more energy than the buildings they’re connected to.

The biggest detriment to electric vehicles is the range anxiety caused by the vehicles’ limited battery life. The Brusaws say that if the Solar Roadways™ team were to turn every highway rest area parking lot into a solar parking lot, an electric vehicle owner would theoretically be able to drive his or her electric vehicle from Seattle to Miami on battery power alone, by recharging at different rest areas across the country.

These are reasons the Brusaws believe we will see solar parking lots before solar roads. Vehicles on parking lots move slowly, which provides a perfect testing ground. Their glass panels consist of heating elements that can melt away snow or ice, negating the need for expensive plowing costs. In addition, the LED lights make up the parking space lines, so the panels mean there’s no need to restripe a parking lot every year. Parking facility owners would be able to change their lots’ layouts with a press of a button on their laptop or cell phone, adding more spaces for disabled drivers or reserved spaces for VIP patrons instantly.

Parking lot owners will be able to advertise using the LEDs embedded in the parking lot panels. A grocery store could advertise the price of a pound of bananas on that day. Stadium parking lots could put their team logos in the parking lot surface or directional arrows directing traffic to the next space. Imagine what on-street parking could do with solar pavement. The load sensors in the panels could communicate real-time data to help large municipalities with on-street occupancy to master demand-based pricing operations.

Speed Bumps
Despite so many potential benefits, there are equally impressive obstacles standing in the way of solar roads. Local governments are cutting budgets and looking to save every dollar possible, and a project with such a substantial price tag (the Brusaws don’t have an exact cost per panel yet, but no one doubts it will be more expensive than asphalt) may seem impossible.

These questions and more will be addressed during the Brusaws’ General Session presentation at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale.

Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, is general manager of Republic Parking System. He can be reached at imouw@republicparking.com.

Mark Botts works for the Mercer County, W.V., Board of Education. He can be reached at markstevenbotts@gmail.com.

TPP-2013-02-Here Comes the Sun

Culture Club

TPP-2013-02-Culture ClubBy Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

I may be dating myself this month. Some of you will remember the group of which I am about to speak with great fondness, while others will have to go to the internet to get my references.

Back in the 1980s there was an English pop band called Culture Club that featured an androgynous lead singer who went by the name of Boy George. This group had a unique sound that combined British new wave with American soul, but also infused Jamaican reggae, calypso from Trinidad and Tobago, Latin salsa, and country music that saw its origins in the southern U.S. Culture Club won a Grammy in 1984 for best new artist, and their song, “Time,” (1982 release) was selected as one of the top 500 most influential songs in rock and roll history. Another, “Karma Chameleon,” (1983 release) was chosen as the quintessential song of the 1980s by video site Ryeberg.

Boy George has outlived his 15 minutes of fame and so has the group. One thing remains to be said about culture, and that is the fact that in spite of all the talk of engagement as an ongoing activity, the culture of an organization ultimately determines its success or lack thereof. Now, to be sure, many organizations talk about culture; some have even articulated theirs and codified it in written form. But there is a tremendous difference between theory and how it is actually carried out in practice.

Recently-fired University of Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber said, “I was too concerned about wins and losses and never developed a recognizable culture.” Gary Keller, CEO of Southwest Airlines, referred to culture as his company’s secret sauce and said, “Culture is hard to define. It is who you are. In that regard there are three things that we ask of all Southwest Airlines employees, which are work hard, have fun, and take care of each other.” Finally, newly-hired University of Illinois basketball coach John Groce said, “I want to establish a culture of toughness and togetherness.”

What can we learn from the likes of Boy George and Culture Club, Bruce Weber, Gary Keller, John Groce, and others as it relates to culture? Here are my takeaways:
We have to be sure that we include the diversity of perspectives that make up our organizations and that we use them to make everyone better.

While culture is no secret—in fact, many people and organizations talk about it all the time—the truth is that few execute well in this area and we have to do more than just talk.

We have to have an objective in mind as to what we want to accomplish with our culture.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for me, we cannot solely look at wins and losses. They do not tell the whole story and they omit the biggest component of any entity, which is the people who make our enterprises viable. When we focus on wins and losses exclusively, we reduce the one true area of our organization that creates value as a commodity item that can be bought and sold on the open market. Our ability to create a culture that positively affects all of our stakeholders is and must be much more than a commodity item if we are to achieve the success we desire.

Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR, is founder and principal of the mpr group and managing partner of Axeo. He can be reached at jrhodes@mprgroup.info or 773.548.8037

TPP-2013-02-Culture Club

America’s Sustainable City

TPP-2013-02-America’s Sustainable CityBy Kevin Blomberg

No city has a lock on the healthy lifestyle quite like Los Angeles, where I live. With its abundant presence of yoga studios, organic grocery stores, and environmental organizations, there’s no shortage of people wanting to live a more healthy existence. However, the city’s notoriously terrible traffic opposes our clean living mentality and has pitted us in a decades-long struggle against air pollution and urban gridlock.

L.A.’s massive sprawl coupled with years of inadequate public transit has created the most car-dependent city in the world. Recent initiatives have accelerated the building of new transportation projects, but it’s hard to imagine our love of automobiles evaporating any time soon. Lately, however, forward-thinking politicians have prioritized a sustainable model for the city to better coexist with cars in the future. The Atlantic called us, “America’s Next Environmental Success Story.” Even the New York Post can’t help but fawn over Los Angeles’ green initiatives.

Parking Progress
As we locals know, progress has often been made at a snail’s pace. But one area where city officials are making nice strides is parking, which affects the flow of traffic more than people realize. New technological measures are being taken to combat traffic in Los Angeles (and other cities) by implementing intelligent parking systems. In his landmark book, The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup,
Ph. D., professor of urban planning at UCLA, drew a direct correlation between urban congestion and parking. His studies have shown that 30 to 40 percent of city traffic is caused by people on the prowl for spots. He writes, “A surprising amount of traffic isn’t caused by people who are on their way somewhere. Rather, it is caused by people who have already arrived. Our streets are congested, in part, by people who have gotten where they want to be but are cruising around looking for a place to park.”

Smart transit technologies have changed the way we commute. In the past, the best method we had to understand live conditions was AM radio traffic reports. Now, many cities openly promote tools to give drivers an understanding of real-time traffic conditions, such as the always-reliable Sigalert or Waze apps. The proliferation of intelligent data, particularly within the world of parking, is changing the way we move about our cities.

Los Angeles’ groundbreaking new LA Express Park program (based partially on Shoup’s theories), uses sensor data to provide meter occupancy and employs dynamic pricing based on demand at a given time. Shoup’s (and others’) studies have proven enormously valuable. The downtown-based system incorporates additional parking technologies into a comprehensive tool that feeds people up-to-the-minute information. Finally, the parking industry is starting to operate in a 21st century mode.

Los Angeles is not the only place that is taking parking seriously. Other cities such as San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and New York have begun to implement strategies to help manage parking and lessen their overall traffic problems. As these cities become more densely populated, urban transit management will become an increasingly central issue for politicians. These measures will subsequently remove the dreaded stigma that has accompanied the word “parking” for many years. Thankfully, the act of parking will never be the same.

Kevin Blomberg is director of communications and public relations coordinator with ParkMe and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at kevin@parkme.com or 310.451.9109.

TPP-2013-02-America’s Sustainable City