Tag Archives: TPP-2013-07-

Myths Busted

Myths Busted
by Thomas E. Curtis, CAPP

Will autonomous vehicles really lead to the demise of the parking garage? 

Parking garages will be obsolete by 2025 (2020 if you believe Uber CEO Travis Kalanick). Of course, the paperless office was hinted at in 1964 and predicted by 1975. Decades later, the use of office paper is only starting to level off, and we are still tens of years away from that visionary dream. So, will the driverless car eliminate the need for parking garages? Probably not and definitely not anytime soon.

In May 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a policy on automated vehicle development that enumerated a classification system:

  • No-Automation (Level 0): The driver is in complete control of the primary vehicle controls at all times.
  • Function-Specific Automation (Level 1): Automation involves one or more specific control functions, such as electronic stability control or lane-keeping assist.
  • Combined Function Automation (Level 2): At least two primary control functions work in unison, such as adaptive cruise control in combination with lane assist.
  • Limited Self-Driving Automation (Level 3): The driver can cede full control of all safety-critical functions in certain traffic conditions.
  • The driver is expected to be available for control with the system, providing sufficient time for transition.
  • Full Self-Driving Automation (Level 4): The vehicle performs all safety-critical functions for an entire trip. The driver provides navigation input but is not expected to be available for control at any time.

SAE International enumerates an alternative classification system that has five levels ranging from driver control to self-driving.

We have seen in the past decades, and will continue to see during the next several years, autonomous features added to standard vehicles. We are now seeing Level 2 features offered in higher-end vehicles: lane-departure warnings combined with adaptive cruise-control that speeds up or slows down cars to maintain their spacing in traffic. These are the features that move us toward the driverless car and are available from most automakers  today. Some auto manufacturers claim Level 3 features will be available in the next five to seven years. Examples of these vehicles are being tested by auto manufacturers and technology firms on public streets today.

Self-Driving Prophecies
Kalanick and Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors, believe self-driving vehicles (Level 4) will be here in five or six years. Musk does, however, concede regulatory impediments will slow the transition to market saturation.

What else will slow the transition to the driverless car?

Currently, less-than-ideal weather conditions are a concern because technology doesn’t allow the vehicle to navigate in snow or heavy rain. Then there is the recent software hack of the Jeep Cherokee. And, of course, there are ubiquitous computer glitches. The old “blue screen of death” might not be just a figure of speech anymore. However, most in the automotive industry believe these technology hurdles will be crossed in the near future.

There are those who have their doubts. Richard Ni and Jason Leung, in their paper “Safety and Liability of Autonomous Vehicle Technologies,” state that Professor John Leonard of MIT has noted that the leap between Level 2 and Level 3 technology is quite extreme and that Google’s test environments have not accounted for extreme but realistic conditions such as snow, glare from the sun, and difficult left-turn situations. He noted that little progress has been made and expressed doubts that Level 3 technology will be available as quickly as car manufacturers claim.

Cost of the technology will be a factor well into the future. According to industry experts, technology costs will increase to about $3,000 per vehicle in 2035, down from $7,000 to $10,000 in 2025. Top-of-the-line, 64-laser rotating Lidar systems retail for about $45,000, though prices will drop as people start buying. The Audi A7 that drove semi-autonomously from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas in early 2015 carried two LIDARs, two shortrange Radars, four mid-range Radars, two long-range Radars, four top-view cameras, one 3-D camera, and four ultrasonic sensors.

Audi’s current active safety package, which includes adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and blindspot detection, is priced at $2,550. And it’s not just the technology that is expensive but the manufacturing as well. As noted by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, “Because system failures could be fatal to both vehicle occupants and other road users, all critical components will need to meet high manufacturing, installation, repair, testing, and maintenance standards, similar to aircraft components, and so will probably
be relatively expensive.”

Infrastructure will be a major concern. Automakers say that a driverless vehicle needs to be connected to an external system that feeds it information about surrounding vehicles, traffic conditions, road work, and the like. Autonomous features such as lane-keeping assist technology needs to “see” the lane markings. It may not activate or work at 100 percent effectiveness when the markings are not sufficiently visible. Because the road cannot communicate with the vehicle and the vehicles can’t yet communicate with each other, the current autonomous system depends on being able to see objects and the lines on the road. This makes it good for superhighways but not so much on smaller roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has encouraged the development of roadway sensors. It also funds research for the Connected Vehicle Program. However, Anthony Foxx, U.S. secretary of transportation, in his introduction to “Beyond Traffic 2045,” notes, “The federal government alone cannot achieve resolution of all of the issues and concerns the future will bring.” A few states—notably California, Nevada, Iowa, Michigan, and Florida—do appear to be focused and invested in driverless vehicle technology and infrastructure. This may cause development of incompatible infrastructure between states.

Regulation will be problematic. NHTSA has shown little interest in promulgating regulations. To this point, regulations have primarily been handled at the state level. Bryant Walker Smith, professor at the University Of South Carolina School of Law, states, “Typically, federal mandates for new technology arrive only after it dominates the market.” Examples of this include seat belts, air bags and backup cameras. What happens when the task is delegated to the states? Inconsistent state regulations pose the risk of 50 states with 50 different regulations. The Audi test car was allowed to test in California and Nevada, but the states have different regulations and license plates. The test car was stopped for a license plate change when it crossed state lines.

If we believe regulation will be problematic where does that leave liability? How do we insure a vehicle not con-trolled by a person? Who is responsible in an accident? Is it the owner, the driver, the service provider (Uber, Lyft), the infrastructure provider (DOT), the manufacturer? The RAND Corporation in its report “Autonomous Vehicle Technology,” enumerated several options. The recommendation is that “aggressive intervention with
respect to regulation or liability is premature.”

Other Vehicles
Then there is the problem of the more than 250 million cars and trucks already on the road in the U.S. These cars aren’t going away anytime soon. The average vehicle age is estimated to be 11.7 years by 2019. This is generally because of higher quality. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently projected car and truck survivability rate
at more than 50 percent after 13 years. Even if we assume that the driverless car is available and working by 2020, there will still be more than 100 million cars on the road that are driver-operated in 2035. Musk notes that even if driverless cars were available tomorrow, it would take 20 years to replace the entire fleet of vehicles on the road.

Last but certainly not least is the consumer: people. Consider that a lot of us own cars because we like cars. We like driving cars. Cars are very personal things. I don’t see us giving up cars for a Kalanick vision of an on-call Uber fleet anytime soon. Even if we keep personal vehicles, many have concerns about Big Brother. The electronic data recorders (EDRs) in vehicles today record a tremendous amount of information about us already. How safe is that information in a self-driving connected vehicle? Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s top sales executive, told a panel at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, “We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”

What It All Means
How does all this affect parking and the parking garage? Well, it appears doubtful that parking lots and garages will become obsolete within the next few decades, but they will change. They are already changing with cashierless and gateless implementations. And there are an increasing number of robotic garages.

One thing parking professionals should note is that there is a difference between autonomous cars and driverless cars. In July 2015, Business Insider Intelligence predicted that “Fully autonomous cars are further divided into user-operated and driverless vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance questions, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while driverless cars will remain a long ways off.”

Steven Shladover, transportation researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, insists that Level 5 vehicles—robocars that require no human input—“are not on the horizon.” Autonomous cars with drivers still require parking, and people generally like to park close to their destinations. In the near future, we will continue to see the incremental changes being made in our industry. Even IHS automotive, which aggressively
predicts self-driving cars by 2025, forecasts that only a very small percentage will be driverless. And even those  may be severely restricted to driverless zones.

Sometime in the distant future, there may be fewer cars. There may be fewer parking spaces. Currently it is easy to envision a distant future where there will be small robotic garages strategically placed outside of the city center and in suburban hubs—places where drivers send and summon their cars or driverless vehicles go to charge their batteries. But for the next few decades, it’s very likely that the only vehicles able to take us from home to work while we focus attention on our electronic gadgets will still be taxis and limos.

There is no doubt that change is coming, but it will most likely be evolution, not revolution. Although the change may be slow, now is the time for stakeholders to come together. Consideration should be given to both design and operation of the garage of the future. There are many changes coming that the young professionals in parking and other stakeholders should consider now.

So, how does the parking industry adapt? What will the parking garage of 2060 really look like? Will it be a completely automated, robotic garage with charging ports? Will it be more efficient? Will current garages be converted to the SCADPad, a 16 × 8 foot dwelling designed for a single occupant fitted with a bed, kitchenette, and bathroom? All are considerations for another article.

As a side note, this article was created and transmitted electronically. No paper was used.

THOMAS E. CURTIS, CAPP, is a division manager for Platinum Parking in Houston. He can be reached at thomascurtis@platinumparking.com.

TPP-2016-02 Myths Busted

Taming More than Lions

by Bill Franklin, P.Eng.

A new way of thinking about parking eliminates extreme road congestion at the Calgary Zoo.

The Calgary Zoo had a really big problem: It was too popular. On warm, sunny days, excited children and accommodating parents filled family cars and SUVs in lines that stretched hundreds of yards from the entrance and often grew to more than a mile long. The line snaked back to impede traffic on a main corridor into Calgary and dangerously reached all the way up to and onto Calgary’s big and busy highway, the Deerfoot Trail. Families at the back of the queue could wait an hour or more in their vehicles before finally gaining access to the large-capacity parking lot. Zoo visitors were unhappy and city and police officials concerned. Complaints rained in for a remedy to reduce the length of time to enter the park. The Calgary Zoo management proactively looked
for a solution and reached out to several industry experts, who proposed a solution that would revolutionize zoo access and reduce queuing and waiting to virtually zero.

Evolution to a Parking Crisis
The Calgary Zoo is located in the City of Calgary, a booming metropolis in Alberta, Canada, that’s home to some 1.2 million citizens. As the city grew, so did the zoo. The Calgary Zoo remains one of the most popular and endearing attractions in Calgary and is constantly innovating to increase attendance while providing a comfortable environment for the animal residents.

Initially, parking at the zoo was free. In time, the zoo began to look at new and additional revenue models with a careful eye on retaining an attractive and family-friendly demeanor. For example, the zoo wanted the ability for vehicles to enter the zoo parking lot, drop off people, and leave without paying for parking if the process took less than 30 minutes.

In 2009, the zoo embarked on a major parking lot renovation that included expansion of the parking facilities and the installation of a gated automatic parking access system comprised of credit card and zoo card readers, ticket issuers, and gates.

Soon the Calgary Zoo was welcoming 1.5 million visitors annually and boasted 70,000 members— 30,000 of whom subscribed to contract parking. Contract parkers used the same magnetic stripe-equipped zoo card as other zoo members, but theirs were configured to open parking lot gates when inserted into card readers. In theory, the gated system should have worked just fine; in reality, it quickly became a serious headache for both zoo members and managers alike.

Congestion at the Gates
Occasional (non-member) zoo visitors would stop at the automatic kiosks, press a button, and pull a ticket. The visitor would pay with a credit card at the gate either on the way in or out of the park. Zoo members (who pre-paid for parking) could just insert their zoo membership cards into the card reader and, once validated, the gate would rise for access to the park.

Unfortunately, the system didn’t work nearly as well in practice as in theory. Zoo attendees had multiple difficulties with it:

  • They misplaced or forgot their zoo membership cards or credit cards.
  • Rooting around in their purse/wallet/car cabin or trunk wasted minutes.
  • Cards became damaged (scratched mag stripe or demagnetized).
  • Visitors inserted their cards incorrectly. (The card could be inserted in four different ways, only one of which worked.)
  • Zoo parking contracts were not renewed.
  • Zoo memberships were misconfigured.
  • Dropped cards at the reader were difficult to retrieve without moving the car.
  • Cars were trapped at the reader with no room to back up or otherwise get out of the line of traffic.
  • Massive lineups and traffic disruption required the zoo to open gates, forfeiting revenue as vehicles streamed in without paying.

Moreover, these challenges occurred at both the entry and exit, both of which required card insertion.

Independent consultants observed zoo members entering and leaving and characterized the duration for either ingress or egress to be at least 30 seconds on average, occasionally stretching to eight minutes or more. The lengthy time for a successful transaction caused large queues to rapidly form. Zoo members complained of waits of an hour or more, and lineups stretched for 1.5 miles in peak conditions and occasionally to almost two miles.

The massive backup of vehicles spilled onto one of the busiest roads into the downtown core, and when the queues reached their maximum of nearly two miles, stretched right out onto a major highway. Reactions were predictable.

After two years trying to use the troublesome gated system, the Calgary Zoo approached the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) for ideas on solving the seemingly intractable problem.

An Innovative, Practical Solution

The CPA fulfills the City of Calgary’s parking mandates and implements the municipality’s parking policies by managing on- and off-street public parking facilities and enforcement programs and providing parking advisory services. The CPA and Tannery Creek Systems had worked on a number of fixed-camera solutions for Calgary’s ParkPlus System using pay-by-license-plate methodology. The fixed-camera system eliminated queuing by removing gates and entry readers and moving pinch points to pay machines located in the lobbies of the garages. Here as many pay stations as were reasonably required were installed, greatly increasing the number of visitors who could be served simultaneously. Moreover, if a pay machine failed, others were available. Alternatively one could pay using a smartphone and MyParking app.

CPA is a very progressive organization, testing and implementing new and innovative technology and organizational models. Because it controls both parking and enforcement, the organization can create business models that optimize parker experience, parking resources, and operations, facilitating the growth of local business while retaining an efficient revenue stream for the city.

Design Goals

The Calgary Zoo requested the solution offer these features:

  • No gates.
  • Reach across four lanes (about 60 feet).
  • Accommodate large vehicles such as buses and trucks.
  • Feature triggering that could determine vehicle direction and capture cheaters.
  • Offer vehicle detection very close to 100 percent regardless of visibility of plates.
  • Accommodate non-reflective license plates.
  • Be completely automatic.
  • Have the ability to turn all lanes into one direction for event type parking if desired.
  • Allow 30-minute visits for no charge.
  • Be out of reach of vandals.
  • Accommodate harsh winter weather.
  • Withstand lightening strikes.
  • Be reliable.
  • Offer a high degree of support.

Mike Derbyshire, general manager of the CPA, says, “When the zoo approached us and laid out the problem they were having with queuing, we knew that a gateless solution was the answer because we were already using it in our parkades with great success.”

It quickly became apparent that a gantry design would provide the best results. This design provided an excellent view of license plates, provided clearance for large tour buses, and made it difficult for vandals to damage cameras. On the ground, light sensors or lasers assembled in pairs could determine the direction of vehicles and turn on the appropriate cameras and lights.

Design and development started in January 2014 and took approximately nine months, including the gantry, civil engineering, and design of a large outdoor system. In July and August, ground preparation was performed—installing islands, conduit and pylons, and an equipment shed. By September, the final push was on.

Miles Dyck, now with the city roads department but formerly with the CPA, says, “The access and egress issues at the zoo parking lot created significant challenges for the CPA, and this was our first installation of the Park-Plus System outside of our own parking facilities. … The tight teamwork between the Calgary Parking Authority, the zoo, and Tannery was instrumental in successfully implementing each component of the project, including Tannery’s ongoing support after construction was completed and it became operational.”

Results So Far
The zoo access system went live in October 2014 and has been in continual operation since. Compliance is incredibly high at 99.3 percent. Because the system detects all vehicles entering and exiting, excellent counts are obtained, and the prominence of the camera gear is highly persuasive to those who might otherwise cheat.

The average duration of vehicles passing through the camera system is quick, averaging about four seconds and some 10 times faster than the previous gated system. In addition, because vehicles simply drive through, previous experiences of malfunction or other significant problems (such as card misreads) are nonexistent and major delays, traffic congestion, and revenue forfeiture are avoided. The numerous pay stations are conveniently located in the parking lot and greatly improve throughput. Zoo members with contract parking are already registered by license plate, are automatically recognized and processed when they arrive, and have no need to do anything more when visiting the park.

Taxis and parents dropping off their passengers have up to 30 minutes to do so without incurring parking charges, and the system automatically checks and validates their free time duration. The bidirectional ability of the system captures all vehicles entering and leaving the park no matter which lanes they chose to use, and the zoo has the ability, if required, to redirect all four lanes to exit, expediting emptying of the park.

The system has been reliable and was designed with redundancy: Computers control only one lane, and if they fail, the lane can be temporarily blocked and the second redundant lane used instead.

The biggest challenge to date has been with snow occasionally causing spurious triggering of lasers and sunset and sunrise sometimes creating solar glare on the plates. The project partners are working on these issues to minimize their effect, but they’ve had no apparent affect on compliance and revenue.

Perhaps the most important conclusion is by the client, the Calgary Zoo, whose director of guest services Peter Findley, says, “The Calgary Zoo is very pleased with the Calgary Parking Solution ParkPlus parking system for many reasons. The system has eliminated the backup that occurred accessing our parking lots, it is accurate, and the equipment works extremely well in all types of weather. The integration of the program did not inconvenience our members or our staff.”

All serious problems caused by delays at the entrance and exit have been resolved resulting in much happier Calgary Zoo members, zoo management and city and
police officials.

BILL FRANKLIN, P.Eng., is president of Tannery Creek Systems, Inc. He can be reached at bfranklin@tannerycreeksystems.com.

TPP-2016-02 Taming More than Lions


Getting Connected

by Chris Chettle, CAPP; Mike Drow, CAPP; and Peter Lange

Connectivity is the exploding technology trend of 2016. Are you on board?

Refrigerators that help you create a shopping list, cars that provide real-time pressure information for each tire, roads that talk to vehicles to inform drivers of current driving conditions, and watches that let you know when you have not reached your target number
of daily steps: These are just a few of the advances in technology that create more intelligent devices and enable these devices to connect to each other to share information and drive new applications for consumers.

These advances are allowing us to:

  • Connect to devices that tell us about the environment around us.
  • Connect to consumers to provide enhanced services.
  • Connect to the world to share and gather disparate data and information for our use.

Just as in our daily lives and in many other industries, each of these connections is driving change in our parking operations and service offerings. Understanding the opportunities that exist in each connection will help us continue to evolve the parking services we deliver.

Connecting to Devices
The first connection is the one closet to our facilities: the connection to sensor devices that tell us about the environment around us. This connection is often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). Parking operations have been connecting to devices for many years—examples include security cameras that deliver video to closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) in an office and loops in parking entrances and exit lanes that identify the presence of a vehicle (or at least a mass of metal). With the explosion of technology, the iniaturization of a variety of sensors, and the reliability of Wi-Fi communication, we have the ability to detect significantly more things and send data to a central site more economically than ever before. We now have sensor devices (cameras, temperature sensors, pressure sensors) around us that measure and monitor a variety of things in real time on our phones, home appliances, and many other places. These sensors enable the machines and equipment to collect and exchange data. Examples in our personal lives include smart watches that measure our heart rate and speed and distance walked/run and then push this data to a mobile application on our smartphones or computers. Businesses are also installing and connecting devices to support applications in environmental monitoring, urban and rural infrastructure control, and manufacturing automation.

Significant investments are being made by many industries in IoT technologies to capitalize on the promise of creating new services for consumers and driving efficiencies with better, real-time information. Disney is one such example; it is estimated to be investing between $800 million and $1 billion on an IoT initiative launched in 2013. This initiative gives every one of its 30 million annual visitors a wristband, called the Magic Band, that’s embedded with a chip. The MagicBand serves as a ticket, FastPass reservation, payment device, room key for onsite resort guests, and many other things. As consumers walk around Disney and use their MagicBands, Disney is tracking each person’s action and movement. The data are then used to deliver personalized messages to users through Disney’s mobile and web-based applications while identifying how guests interact with the park andservices. Through these tools, Disney understands how guests move through the park, learns which attractions they like and do not like, and gains the ability to offer promotions to move guests into underused areas of the park throughout the day.

The same connectivity of devices is occurring within our parking infrastructure. Sensors detect vehicles in parking spaces, monitor how our parking equipment is operating, and turn lights on and off based on movement. Fixed cameras also act as a form of sensor by identifying license plates and permit credentials to track payments and drive enforcement activities. These devices then have the potential to connect to each other and share
information about their surroundings with the operations management team. This information can be used to deliver improvements in areas such as the proactive response to maintenance conditions before they become a bigger problem and reduce costs for enforcement and operations such as lighting.

Remote management of parking facilities is also made possible through the availability of new technologies such as sensors. Information and control provided by the devices within and outside a facility are delivered to a centralized command center, providing the ability to remotely vend a gate, process payment, push a new rate to the in-lane payment device, support a customer’s service needs, and much more.

Connecting to Consumers
The next level of connectivity is the connection to consumers. This is the one that allows us to provide relevant and useful information and services to consumers, in many cases, in a personalized manner. Parking is taking advantage of this connection in many ways: reservations, virtual permitting, mobile payment, and wayfinding are just a few, with many happening before a driver enters a parking facility. There has been a big shift in the management and distribution of parking permits as a result of this consumer connectivity. As parking operations connect to consumers via apps and websites, there is a migration from physical to virtual permits. The benefits of this transition include consumers’ ability to serve themselves online (when they are available vs. when the garage office is open), the ability to handle payment activities online, the elimination of paper permits, and the potential for more automated enforcement methodologies. One parking operation capitalizing on this trend is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which has eliminated payment kiosks and cash honor boxes by moving to virtual permits on a mobile app. The app allows a parker to pay for parking, reserve a spot, or buy a daily pass.

Wayfinding is another consumer application that connects the parking operation to the consumer. By collecting availability data from the parking facility, the parking operation is able to guide parkers to the ideal open parking spots, thereby reducing congestion in the garage and improving the consumer’s experience. By collecting data from sensors, the parking operation team is able to connect to consumers by providing real-time information on available spaces through an app or website. The City of Santa Monica, Calif., created such an integrated wayfinding and real-time data program for its downtown district. Wayfinding signage was installed throughout the downtown, directing visitors and residents to various amenities and motorists to various parking garages. Prepaid parking is also a hot trend based on the increased percentage of transactions completed (electronically/ online/mobile) during the past 18 months.

Prepaid parking allows a parking operation to connect to consumers and offer them different services at different price points. Consumers who want a guaranteed, reserved parking space are able to purchase in advance of their arrival, while other customers looking for discounted parking can find operations that are willing to reserve parking in advance at a lower price, but without the guarantee for a specific space. In addition to delivering a parking space in advance of arrival, prepaid parking applications provide information about additional services that are available at a facility, such as car washes.

With the growth in mobile apps, no single app will be the most useful for consumers. Consumers will want to see all of their parking options, whether the spaces are on- or off-street. In addition, people park their vehicles to do other things, such as go to work, school, dinner, an event, or the doctor. This means there is a need for parking operations to increase partnerships with businesses, municipalities, and other organizations
to aggregate all of this information and to connect to consumers to help them do the other things.

Connecting to the World
The final pillar of the connectivity trend is how a parking infrastructure connects to the larger world, sharing information the parking facility is collecting with other entities that can use it to provide services to their customers. The other entities interacting with the parking data can be associated industries, such as transit operations, or fit into the broader evolution of the Smart Cities concept.

Connections between devices, consumers, and city infrastructure are being developed to provide a better experience for parkers, city visitors, and residents as well as a more efficient, responsive range of services and functions within the city itself. Connected cities use data collected from parking and transit operations via sensors, cameras, and the voluntary participation of customers to provide information (parking rates or customer satisfaction, for example). Cities are then using this aggregated data to make smart decisions. These decisions may concern frequency of trash pickup, regulation of street lights, or deployment of parking enforcement officers.

Of course, Smart Cities depend to a great extent on the existence of the IoT—the connection to devices that are in the infrastructure. For example, traffic sensors and cameras allow the city to provide real-time traffic light response so that when cars are going in one predominant direction, lights can switch to have longer green phases for those in rush hour and shorter for the more sparsely traveled direction. Cities often provide the communication infrastructure for these services with municipal Wi-Fi and other communication methodologies that can extend to the automobile itself through infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V) communications.

Car manufacturers are also getting involved with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems, but these are more focused on road safety than the support of new services. Finally, mobile phone providers are contributing to these trends with the development of near-field communication (NFC). NFC can be used for payment, access as a credential, and other services linked to an individual based on his or her specific identity.

Parking is an intersection in the Smart City concept where transit, merchants, and sustainability meet. These meeting points open up more opportunities for parking professionals to serve customers by acting as a liaison between parking motorists and their next stop—a merchant, a theater, a bike-share program, a walk down the street, or the bus stop to create what is being called a frictionless experience. The concept of friction reduction is essentially taking the pain out city life by making everything easier, as recently demonstrated by disruptive applications, such as Uber for ride sharing. Imagine a garage that alerts a local traffic signal that a large number of cars are exiting, nudging the traffic signal to adjust its timing to allow the cars to exit the garage quickly, reducing congestion in the road and in the garage. This is possible because of the connection-to-the-world trend.

Navigating Technology Change
As exciting and readily available as these three trends are to the parking industry, there are changes that we need to consider in our operations to take full advantage of them. Traditional parking operations have largely focused on in-the- garage operations, or specifically, what happens within the facility when the gate is opened and the car enters and eventually leaves a facility. This typically includes activities such as checking if the garage is clean, lights are working, and if ticket spitters and receipt paper are full. Historically, consumer communication or marketing was also managed with an in-the-garage focus: signs at the entrance ramp showing promotion rates, signage hanging on the garage wall detailing hourly and monthly parking rates and vehicle restrictions, all viewable to the consumer once he or she was in the facility.

This approach has worked well for decades, but the three connectivity trends are changing that focus. Consumers no longer wait to make their decisions until they are driving around the block looking for a convenient place to park. As a result, garage operations need to be
more effective and able to address changing needs and consumer expectations. These changes include being able to price parking based on local area activity or operationally supporting a surge in parking activity in the lanes due to local event or failure of lane equipment. Consumers are more sophisticated, with greater access to information and tools to make decisions in advance of even getting in their car.

This shift has a created a resource gap between the traditional mechanical world within a garage to the digital world that exists outside the garage, but it is quickly becoming a part of the inside of the garage. The skills we need to manage a parking operation are evolving, and the resource gap we need to fill should consider our new business strategies and the new technologies we will deploy. All of this leads to acquiring new people and/or skills to support the future operations.

People with parking experience and knowledge will always be a critical foundation to make the right decisions for our operations, but emerging technologies are becoming more sophisticated to evaluate, implement, and support, so a broader skill set in your team is needed.

New positions in your organization to support these changes might include dedicated parking-specific IT personnel who support network design and support; technicians to implement and maintain various sensor devices (cameras, space detection, equipment sensors, light sensors); database administrators to build data warehouses to store the collected data; data analysts to dig into the information with new software tools; and Internet marketing specialists to create social media outreach programs so customers don’t just find out about you when they get to your parking facility.

In some organizations, it may be appropriate to elevate a technically savvy manager to a leadership position to help guide the operations to take advantage of these three trends. We see this occurring in more and more parking organizations utilizing a range of technologies. In one major North American municipality, the parking department has its own chief technology officer and team that includes a dedicated IT manager and 15 technical staff, all dedicated to parking.

The explosion of connectivity with devices, consumers, and the larger world is pushing our industry in new ways that can only be expected to accelerate. These trends are leading to an expanded view of what parking can and should be to better integrate with intermodal transportation options and cities as a whole while also capitalizing on consumer expectations for Internet-based services, improved choice, and better customer service. If we all take leadership in these areas, parking will provide broader and better solutions for our customers while being well-prepared for the changes going on around us.

CHRIS CHETTLE, CAPP, is EVP and general manager of T2 Systems Canada and a member  of IPI’s Parking Technology Committee. He can be reached at chris.chettle@t2systems.com.

MIKE DROW, CAPP, is SVP technology integration at SP+ and co-chair of IPI’s Parking Technology Committee. He can be reached at mdrow@spplus.com.

PETER LANGE is executive director, transportation, at Texas A&M University, College Station, and co-chair of IPI’s Parking Technology Committee. He can be reached at


The Eye of the Beholder

tpp-2016-02-the-eye-of-the-beholder_page_1The Winners of the Parking Professional’s 2015 Photo Contest

Parking professionals show off their creative eyes in The Parking Professional’s annual photo contest, with amazing results.

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR—photo contest time! Every year, IPI staff gather ‘round to judge the entries we get from parking professionals in all parts of the industry. This year was particularly tough to judge, with a record number of entries and lots of really difficult decisions. Parking professionals are a creative bunch! Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s photo contest and many congratulations to this  year’s winners! The 2016 contest will launch this fall—keep an eye out and be sure to enter.


Off the Grid

TPP-2013-07-Off the GridBy Bill Schoenfisch

When Long Beach City College (LBCC) first opened in 1927 with an enrollment of 503 students, its current enrollment of more than 27,000 probably seemed like an impossible dream. The college later split into three separate campuses by function, and renamed its original Long Beach location the Liberal Arts Campus. Steady growth happened all along the way, but until recently, there was one glaring holdover from decades ago: an old asphalt parking lot with a narrow strip of grass that still served as the campus’s main parking facility.

LBCC leaders sought to build a garage to minimize parking on nearby residential streets (a common problem among city colleges) by students. Creating additional on-campus parking, close to classroom buildings was the best way to do that.

When a multi-million-dollar state grant was awarded to the college for facilities improvements as a small part of an overall bond fund approved by voters, a group of facility planners, designers, system suppliers, and contractors was put together from Southern California to create a long-term solution to LBCC’s student parking problem. Interestingly, the solution would also directly benefit the lower half of the state’s economy, its businesses, and employment numbers.

The result is a new parking garage that stands as a veritable tour de force of architectural design aesthetics, function, energy savings, lasting durability, and low maintenance. It is a contemporary structure that features five full floors of parking—space is maximized and none is wasted. There is one difference between fifth-floor parking and spaces on the lower four floors, however. The roof is covered with advanced technology solar panels that yield higher-than-average conversion ratios to electric power. These solar panels also uniquely serve as the fifth floor’s roof.

The Garage
The new LBCC garage encompasses 296,000 square feet. It is constructed of steel beams covered with cast-in-place, long-span post-tension concrete, for long-term durability with low maintenance. The side facing the southwest corner of Carson Street and Clark Avenue in Long Beach has been termed “California modern” in its overall style and taste. It fits in with other neighborhood structures of all kinds at the same time it stands out in its uniqueness, and is professionally landscaped with creative combinations of younger and more mature native trees, shrubs, native soil, and functional, decorative native stonework.

The new five-story parking garage accommodates 900 cars. It has multiple pedestrian elevators and emergency phones on each level with fire-protection systems throughout; all of these are solar powered as are garage lighting and illuminated electronic display signage showing space availability. Excess power generated by the garage solar array is used to benefit adjacent campus buildings, lowering their carbon footprints and utility costs by about 9 percent while saving 18.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions every year.

The low-energy, long-life, low-maintenance interior garage lighting is powered by Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin-layer (HIT) solar panels from Panasonic. Unique solar cells combine two key technologies, sandwiching high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon between ultra-thin layers of amorphous silicon, yielding superior conversion efficiency with excellent temperature characteristics.

HIT Power® panels generate more energy than typical solar panels, which can be especially useful in limited amounts of space.

Luminaires employed at the Long Beach City College parking garage contain two low-energy, high performance, solar-powered ultra-long-life 28-watt linear fluorescent T8 Series lamps per parking garage luminaire. They typically replace outdated single-lamp metal halide or high-pressure sodium luminaires, which easily consume 175 watts or much more per fixture and have shorter practical operating lives with frequent maintenance. RSCP luminaires emit 83 percent lighting efficiency with low or no glare, from a choice of clear or internally ribbed translucent, radial-shaped damage-resistant lenses.

The garage’s fixture design discourages accumulation of airborne debris, insects, or bird nests. Lenses show no distracting lamp or socket images when viewed from below by motorists as they seek parking spaces or exit the garage. Very high white-light efficiency makes it easier for motorists seeking available parking spaces to identify spaces as they proceed along a given aisle, before passing ones they may want.

Each light fixture is four feet long and smooth surfaced. Lamping is rated at 50,000 hours of operating life, with solid-state electronic ballasts providing 90 percent maintained lumens at 90 percent of that long lifespan. High-color-rendition white light emitted resembles natural daylight, which makes it easier for parking garage motorists and campus security patrols to accurately discern people walking inside the garage, and vehicles parked or in motion.

The LBCC garage solar panel system is the second-largest in the city. It generates a substantial 59,000 kW hours per month and 708,000 kWh annually. To raise awareness of the benefits of the system, the college has installed an information kiosk on the adjacent campus parkway that shows energy levels being produced by the garage-top solar panels. In an unusual twist to a parking garage, students also benefit as the electrical technology department uses the data in the classroom. Teachers and students can access the garage’s energy data electronically for use in classwork or homework.

There’s a great convenience feature to the garage, too. Solar-powered parking space availability electronic sign monitors on each level of the garage alert students to changing numbers of open spaces, day or night.

The school saves approximately $100,000 annually on its electricity bill from Southern California Edison, and earns a utility rebate of $10,000 every month for a five-year period—that’s $600,000 total. Cost savings that come from decreasing power grid demand by those same amounts will grow as utility rates climb higher.

The solar panel system, which was built and installed by skilled International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) electricians, was completed on-time and on-budget. Over course of the project, not a single workers’ compensation or other insurance claim was filed. This yielded awards for all involved from the Statewide Educational Wrap-up Program, a joint power authority that provides insurance to schools and community college districts.

Besides being green, the solar-powered parking structure is being used as an educational tool, giving students pursuing degrees and certificates in sustainable fields hands-on experience right in their own backyard.

The combination of low-watt, long life, high-efficiency parking garage light fixtures that are solar powered, along with electronic signage, passenger elevators, and other electric equipment, saves the school 76.6 percent more energy than required by Title 24. This earned Long Beach City College a second (one-time) rebate from Southern California Edison of more than $25,000.

Bill Schoenfisch is principal of Schoenfisch Inc. He can be reached at primages@aol.com.

TPP-2013-07-Off the Grid

Maintenence Matters

TPP-2013-07-Maintenence MattersBy Gregory J. Neiderer, PE

Some parking facility owners and operators believe that as long as their structures continue to serve the public, few maintenance-related tasks need to be performed. Nothing could be further from the truth—facility maintenance is downright essential. One of the most important things an owner or operator can do to extend the life of a parking structure is formulate and implement a proper maintenance plan.

Case studies of three different parking garages in Pennsylvania clearly demonstrate that ongoing maintenance programs minimize repair costs. In fact, well-maintained garages have significantly lower annualized repair costs, while repairs for lightly-maintained garages cost operators and owners two to four times as much (on an inflation-adjusted basis).

Garage Condition
All three Pennsylvania garages investigated were built in the early 1970s. They were all designed by the same design firm and all experienced similar weathering. The primary difference between the three garages was the extent of known maintenance. To easily identify the facilities, they will be referred to by their geographic location within the state: Eastern, Central, and Western.

The three garages feature the same structural systems: cast-in-place lightweight concrete, one-way slab and beam floor systems reinforced with unbonded post-tensioned (P/T) tendons. The garages share the following characteristics:
The lightweight concrete has poor freeze-thaw durability, which is partially offset by significant floor drainage slopes throughout most floor areas. Where drainage slopes are minimal, the slabs exhibited significant freeze-thaw damage.

The P/T tendons are 7-strand wire protected by plastic sheathing with minimal concrete cover (less than 3/16 of an inch). This was between the driving surface and the tendons where they crossed above beams. This thin concrete layer wore through in a number of locations, leaving the tendons vulnerable after the plastic sheathing also wore through. At locations where the sheathing had worn away, the tendons corroded and then broke.

Perimeter walls consist of either concrete or clay hollow cell block similar to—but only half the height of—common concrete block (CMU). In the Eastern and Central garages, every other cell was grouted solid, while in the Western garage, all cells were grouted solid. The Eastern and Central garages sustained significant damage from having water trapped in the un-grouted (empty) cells. This was from water slowly saturating the concrete and tendons beneath it.

The Western garage had supplementary slab rebar to provide a safety mechanism for tendon failure. When these rebars corroded, they became a significant deterioration mechanism as well.

Condition on Investigation
Constructed in 1973, the Eastern garage is a 420-space, five-level facility. The garage’s maintenance history was unknown, but appeared to consist of light maintenance (primarily repairing exposed broken slab tendons and installing weep holes into perimeter masonry walls to alleviate water storage within the ungrounded cells). During the investigation, the garage’s critical issues were extensive perimeter wall and slab edge deterioration on the upper two levels (due to water saturation from the perimeter walls’ ungrouted cells), localized slab P/T tendon breakage above beams, chloride-contaminated concrete, and brittle joint sealants.

Constructed in 1972, the Western parking garage is a 300-space, four-level facility. The maintenance history was unknown, but appeared to consist of light maintenance (primarily removing loose concrete and patching of spalls). This garage received a unique vertical expansion down into the soil beneath a portion of the facility (to make room for a 10,000-square-foot bus/train waiting area). During this project, a traffic-bearing, waterproofing membrane was installed above the waiting area and joint sealants were replaced. During the investigation, the garage’s critical issues consisted of extensive slab freeze-thaw damage at roof-level flat areas, freeze-thaw damage to numerous beam and slab edges, localized slab P/T tendon breakage above beams, extensive rebar corrosion and concrete spalling over the top of beams, chloride contaminated concrete, brittle joint sealants, and a worn-out membrane.

Constructed in 1973, the Central garage is a 490-space, five-level facility. This garage was judged to be in fair condition, except for a 5,500-square-foot portion of the roof level where minimal floor drainage exhibited a significant number of broken slab P/T tendons. The known maintenance history consisted of two sets of structural and waterproofing repairs, as well as architectural renovations (the original perimeter wall was replaced with a brick-faced concrete wall). During the investigation, the garage’s critical issues were the extensive P/T tendon damage at flat areas of the roof level, moderate slab edge deterioration due to water leakage through the original perimeter wall and then through the brick façade, chloride contaminated concrete, and brittle joint sealants.

Structural Repair Options
Detailed here are the structural repair options along with costs and lifespans for the garages. Excluded are non-structural costs included in the final repair options’ costs. These, while real, varied greatly by client preference and constraints. These non-structural costs included lost revenue; construction management fees; design fees and contingencies; and lighting, elevator, parking equipment, and occupied space upgrades. Structural repair option costs include structural repairs and waterproofing to protect the structural repairs. Unless specifically noted, all repair options were designed to allow for another life extension at the end of the proposed repair (See Figure 1 for details).

The Eastern garage had several proposed repair options: one-year life extension at $139,000; five-to-10-year life extension at $1,223,000; 20-to-30-year life extension at $2,216,000; and replacement with a new garage with a 45-year-plus lifespan at $6,506,000.

The Western garage had these proposed repair options: three-to-five-year life extension at $889,000; seven-to-12-year life extension at $1,262,000; and 15-to-25-year life extension at $1,855,000. No replacement option was desired based on the anticipated lack of future additional parking demand and the resulting inability to recoup the large costs of a new facility.

The Central garage had these proposed repair options: three-to-seven-year life extension at $253,000 (this option required demolition shortly past year 10); five-to-10-year life extension at $684,000; 12-to-15-year life extension at $882,000; 14-to-19-year life extension at $898,000; 15-to-20-year life extension at $1,624,000; and replacement with a new garage with a 45-year-plus lifespan at $4,788,000.

The repair options presented different challenges to each garage owner. Owners typically look at monetary factors such as total cost, length of life extensions, and the remaining durations of outstanding bonds, as well as non-monetary considerations that include the political environment and anticipated future parking demand. Newer parking garages often have significant annual bond payments as compared to revenues, while older garages with small or no annual bond payments provide strong cash flow to subsidize other newer garages or the entire parking system. New parking garages rarely provide significant positive cash flow because they compete with much cheaper on-street parking (which is generally paid for with either gasoline excise or property taxes) and are provided as a public service with no intent of generating significant positive cash flow.

It’s recommended to owners that when analyzing monetary factors, one should look primarily at the annualized cost effectiveness—or the ace—which is defined as cost-per-space per year (total cost divided by number of spaces divided by the mid-point between the anticipated lower and upper repair life spans).

Owners are also urged to look at total cost. The ace highlights the relative cost effectiveness of each option, while the total cost highlights total funding needs. Total cost often influences the political consequences of requesting funding and interacts with the anticipated likelihood of future parking demand and the current political will to fund anticipated future parking supply.

Selected Courses

The Eastern garage had four options presented, with a 20- to 30-year life extension being the most cost-effective. The facility’s owner decided that additional parking demand was necessary for community growth. A demolish-and-rebuild solution was chosen: Minimal garage repairs were made to maintain safety until the facility was demolished and a new 680-space, seven-level garage was built with a construction cost of approximately $12.1 million.

The Western garage had three options, with a 15- to 25-year life extension being the most cost-effective. The owner chose the life extension based on its cost effectiveness and a low anticipation for future parking demand increase. The owner then proceeded with small repairs until funds became available to repair the garage in three phases. Construction costs totaled just less than $2 million.

The Central garage had six options presented, with a 14- to 18-year life extension being the most cost-effective. The owner chose the life extension based on its cost effectiveness, as future parking demand—while anticipated to increase—was uncertain as to the rate of growth and there was time before a new facility was needed. The garage was repaired in one phase with a construction cost totaling $1.5 million. A new 525-space, six-level garage with 20,000 square feet of retail was built several blocks away. The construction cost was $11.1 million.

Cost Comparison
Due to the effects of inflation on pricing, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers were used to translate the ace pricing from each investigation into October 2012, prices. Figure 1 compares repair options with the translated ace pricing.

Figure 2 shows the translated ace costs versus option lifespan for all three garages.

The following conclusions can be inferred from the table and graph:

  • The garage with the known comprehensive maintenance history had the most economical ace. The garages with apparent little maintenance history had ace that was typically two to five times as expensive for similar lifespans as the comprehensively maintained garage.
  • Shorter term repairs typically have smaller total costs but also are less cost-effective (have higher aces) in extending the lifespan of a facility.
    There is typically an optimum repair scenario that extends the lifespan most cost-effectively.
  • New garages are typically not the most cost-effective way to continue to provide structured parking supply, but it is difficult to accurately compare costs. It’s particularly difficult to project maintenance costs throughout a new garage’s lifespan, as this will significantly change the ace for the option. There is also difficulty in direct comparison because new garages often have non-mandatory items (such as faster elevators, surveillance equipment, emergency power systems, and better durability resistance) and mandatory items (more robust earthquake resistance) that simply did not exist when these garages were built. Other non-monetary issues that may be considered important are that new garages may be politically more acceptable than repairs, because old, repaired garages often appear similar to the general public when compared to their pre-repair appearance; newer features can be added; and few people may notice the increase in annual bond payments.

An interesting note is that the parking efficiency—the square feet per car—(which is set at the time of construction) affects maintenance costs. The Western garage has about 12 percent more square feet per car. Since every square foot must be maintained and repaired, the facility’s costs are 12 percent higher due to is configuration based on “per space” repairs.

The Importance of Maintenance Plans
Parking facilities differ from most buildings because, like bridges, they are subject to weathering, large thermal cycles, and de-icing salts. To counteract these factors and cost-effectively prolong their lifespan, a carefully planned and monitored maintenance plan will minimize the total cost of ownership.

Gregory J. Neiderer, PE, is mid-Atlantic department head at Walker Restoration Consultants. He can be reached at greg.neiderer@walkerparking.com.

TPP-2013-07-Maintenence Matters

Aiding & Abetting in a Good Way

TPP-2013-07-Aiding & Abetting in a Good WayBy Eric Crouch and Stacy Moncibaiz

Monitoring a campus that houses a population of 35,000 and is the size of a small town often takes on a life of its own. Among the usual student, faculty, and staff activities, stolen vehicles and criminal persons of interest can pass through campus without anyone knowing.

That’s changed at Texas Tech University thanks to a parking decision. We stopped using physical permits in 2010 and switched over to a license plate recognition (LPR) system for parking. And thanks to the office of transportation and parking services (TPS) and the campus police department (Tech PD) working together during and after implementation, the system has greatly enhanced both parking and campus safety.

The Mechanics
TPS grants selected members of Tech PD command staff limited access to TechPark, the software that manages Texas Tech permissions and LPR readings. Tech PD has read-only status of records, but can add watched vehicles and field alerts for those vehicles to the system. These field alert codes identify stolen vehicles and those that may be driven by wanted individuals. When an LPR camera—either fixed at a campus entry station or on an enforcement patrol vehicle—scans a vehicle’s plates and finds a field alert for that tag, the system alerts authorities.

Notification settings for the field alerts include covert, not-covert, or a hybrid of the two. Covert alerts generate messages to two Tech PD command staff members, along with managers in TPS, enforcement, and Tech PD. The message includes the field alert type, vehicle description, campus location where the plate was read, and a photo of the vehicle taken by the LPR camera. Tech PD uses covert notifications to minimize risk when police officers may face a hostile driver.

A not-covert notification option generates an on-screen notification for the entry
station attendant or enforcement officer whose camera scanned the plates. This allows TPS to keep an eye on the vehicle until authorities arrive, to keep it from leaving the area. Tech PD most commonly uses this notification for stolen vehicles.

The hybrid notification option allows for a combination of covert and not-covert.

Tech PD Criminal Investigations Lieutenant Mike McAlister says he likes the functionality of the field alerts. He took another step forward and built in an SMS text message feature that sends notification messages straight to his phone when he’s away from his desk.

Fighting Crime
“I use [LPR] almost every day,” McAlister says. He uses the system to locate stolen vehicles on campus, find vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents, and even piece together details regarding campus crime.

LPR allows Tech PD to locate stolen vehicles from the surrounding region on campus. McAlister says that while it’s more common for thieves to steal vehicles from campus and leave, his department recently located two stolen vehicles at Texas Tech thanks to the LPR system.

Finding vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents proved an unexpected benefit for Tech PD. If someone on the Texas Tech campus reports a hit-and-run, officers look for the suspect vehicles using LPR and full or partial plate information. When a possible match occurs, Tech PD officers investigate the suspect vehicle for damage and paint rubs.

McAlister says he also uses LPR in case investigations to verify the stories of suspects and victims. “It helps prove or disprove their stories,” he says. For example, someone recently keyed an employee’s vehicle. The suspect was an acquaintance of the vehicle’s owner who claimed she was not on campus at the time of the keying because of an appointment elsewhere. An LPR camera at an entry station captured her vehicle entering campus around the time of the crime, busting her alibi.

Finding Criminals
The system is used for more than traffic-related crimes or car thefts: LPR cameras can locate suspects on the lam when needed. Stephen Lambert, IT manager, University Parking Services, believes making the system available and easy for Tech PD to use avoids delays apprehending fleeing suspects and helps protect the safety of those on campus. Because Tech PD officers have direct limited access to the system, officers can bypass additional time-consuming steps and create alerts even when TPS is closed.

Last February, an individual murdered an elderly woman and shot her caretaker in a small town near Lubbock. The surviving victim gave the police a description of the assailant and his vehicle, which closely matched that of one Sampson Blake Oguntope. Police questioned Oguntope about knocking on a door in the victim’s neighborhood that morning and asking specific questions about the caretaker’s comings and goings.1

Law enforcement officials issued a statewide search for the suspect’s vehicle that involved an air unit, the Lubbock County SWAT team, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.2

Just hours after the crime, Tech PD input Oguntope’s license plate number into TechPark. Within minutes, LPR cameras picked up Oguntope’s vehicle on campus, where he seemed to be trying to hide from police. Law enforcement officers went to campus and the surrounding area, and the SWAT team placed surveillance on his home. Sure enough, he headed home after his drive through campus, and was arrested.3 The following month, a grand jury indicted him on two counts of capital murder. If convicted, he may receive life without parole or the death penalty.4

LPR also assisted with the case of convicted terrorist Khalid Aldawsari. In February 2011, Aldawsari was a very private 20-year-old college student from Saudi Arabia. He had withdrawn from his chemical engineering studies at Texas Tech earlier in the year and enrolled at nearby South Plains College as a business student. He also acquired two of three ingredients to make the explosive trinitrophenol. Buying the third, though, sunk his plans.

After purchasing the final chemical, he asked the supplier to ship the chemical to a freight company that would hold it for him. The freight company sent the order back to the chemical company5 and alerted the FBI and Lubbock police that the purchase did not appear to be intended for commercial use.6 The chemical company then contacted the FBI about the strange $435 purchase,7 which Aldawsari said was for “off-campus, personal research” in developing a cleaning product.8

The FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant that allowed agents to secretly search Aldawsari’s apartment, which was roughly a block away from the Texas Tech campus.9 For two weeks, Tech PD tracked Aldawsari’s movements on campus through TechPark so FBI agents would know when he was away from his apartment to conduct searches.10

When agents searched his apartment, they found a journal he used to detail his plans, including those to detonate car bombs placed on New York City streets during rush hour. Aldawsari’s other targets included the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, dams in Colorado and California, and homes of former Abu Ghraib prison military guards.11

FBI agents arrested Aldawsari in Lubbock in late February. He was found guilty of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and in November 2012, sentenced to life in prison.

Event Security
Texas Tech often hosts large-scale events on campus. When necessary, TPS uses LPR to help police locate the vehicles of individuals who make or pose threats relating to an event. Because LPR patrol vehicles scan lots faster than people can, these potential criminals can be located almost immediately.

Keeping it Private
While our LPR system has helped catch several criminals, not everyone is a fan. A number of individuals and civil rights organizations have raised concerns about the privacy of LPR that we’ve had to address.

“Policy states we don’t release information to anyone except Tech PD,” Lambert says. TPS screens Tech PD officers who want to use TechPark, and all must be approved employees to gain access.

Aside from Tech PD, TPS does not share its LPR data with any other entity inside or outside the Texas Tech University System. Officers who are granted access receive limited searching and LPR access privileges. LPR information on TechPark is encrypted to prevent hacking.

Lambert built automatic data purging into the TechPark system: it keeps LPR reads for 180 days before permanent deletion, and keeps hits and photos of license plates that receive parking citations, boots, or tows for 365 days for account resolution purposes. They are then deleted.

The cameras capture photos of rear license plates scanned only on the Texas Tech campus through one of seven entry stations or one of four LPR-equipped patrol vehicles. Cameras do not take front-view photos that would identify individuals in their cars. TPS strictly prohibits the use of LPR cameras on vehicles not operated by TPS.

An Investment in Safety

TPS’s LPR system paid for itself in its first 18 months of use, and the benefits to Tech PD provide an added bonus. Campus safety will always remain a top priority to both departments, and LPR proved its worth in protecting students, employees, and visitors on the Texas Tech campus.

Stacy Moncibaiz is marketing coordinator of transportation and parking services at Texas Tech University. She can be reached at stacy.moncibaiz@ttu.edu or 806.742.7275.

Eric Crouch is managing director of transportation and parking services at Texas Tech University. He can be reached at eric.crouch@ttu.edu or 806.742.7275.

TPP-2013-07-Aiding & Abetting in a Good Way

The Basics of Intellectual Property

TPP-2013-07-The Basics of Intellectual PropertyBy Ralph G. Fischer, Esq. and Jason P. Wrona, Esq.

Technological innovation is driving the evolution of the parking industry. The demand for enhanced revenues, sustainable technology, real-time statistics, and smart products pressure manufacturers and developers to continually innovate or be left behind. Examples of these innovations abound: manual meter reading and single-space mechanical parking meters are being replaced by license plate readers (LPR) and pay-by-plate multi-space meters and parking apps eliminate aimless driving in search of a parking space.

This poses a challenge to parking professionals. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish similar technologies, which can result in purchasing the cheapest, but not the best-suited, product to fulfill an organization’s needs.
The unique features of a parking product or service may be the factor that tips the scales in your favor when pitching to customers or responding to a request for proposals. Accordingly, manufacturers and developers of parking products and services should consider legally protecting their parking innovation, or intellectual property (IP), so it does not end up in their competitor’s stable of products.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property
We are often approached by potential clients who want to patent an idea. While there are different ways to protect your innovation, a patent may not be the best fit for a particular product or service. There are, however, different ways to think about how to better protect your parking product or service:

Utility patents:
Utility patents protect new processes or machines, or improvements to existing processes or machines. Utility patents are often what people think of when they say they have an invention to patent. A manufacturer should apply for a utility patent for a brand-new type of parking meter, an improvement that increases the reliability or efficiency of an existing parking meter, or a method for improving the user-friendliness of an existing parking meter.

Design patents:
Design patents are intended to protect the ornamental aspects of a design. These patents protect the look or aesthetic effect of a product. A company that sells a product that has a unique aesthetic quality should consider applying for a design patent that protects the signature look of its product. For example, a distinctive parking meter housing that improves the marketability of the meter may be the subject of a design patent. A design patent could then be used as a basis for excluding other competitors from copying the design.

Copyright: Copyright law protects creative expressions that are in a tangible medium. Examples of works that may be copyrighted include source code for parking apps or parking software, instruction manuals (for instance, a how-to booklet for deploying LPR), pictures of a product, or drawings illustrating the design of a product. A lawsuit against a competitor for improper use of your copyrighted material (called an infringement) cannot be filed without a copyright registration being issued for a particular work. Further, copyright registration provides a floor for damages in the event of an infringement and the basis to collect attorneys’ fees from an infringer.

Trademarks: A trademark is a word, phrase, or symbol that distinguishes a company’s product. A logo used in connection with a product or a trade name are examples of trademarks. A company may pursue federal trademark registration to help prevent others from using its trademark in a misleading way.

Trade secrets: Trade secret protection applies to commercially important information that is secret. For a trade secret to be protected, it must be maintained as secret and reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure it remains secret. Examples of trade secrets include proprietary algorithms used in parking demand models, customer lists, or detailed parking meter schematic design drawings.

Securing IP Protection
The process for securing protection for your product or service depends on whether your product should be protected by a patent, copyright, or trademark, or qualifies as a trade secret. It is a fact-intensive inquiry, as a particular product could qualify for different protections with different remedies if someone tries to steal your IP. Accordingly, it is important to involve an attorney during the creative process to understand how to best protect your IP.

Patent applications, which are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), can take well more than three years before being approved, although design patents can take as little as one year to process. Filing a patent application entitles the applicant to mark their product as patent pending, which may dissuade competitors from copying it. A patent typically lasts 20 years from the date the application was filed.

Copyright applications are filed with the United States Copyright Office (USCO). The length of the application process varies with the complexity of the application, but average wait periods are three to six months. Generally, copyright protection lasts for at least 70 years.

Trademark applications are also filed at the USPTO. The timeliness of approval depends on the type of mark that is being protected and whether there are third-party objections registered during the application process. As such, these applications may take several years to process. Generally, trademark protections are effective as long as registration maintenance documents are filed with the USPTO in a timely fashion.

Trade secrets are protected by law without registration with a government agency. Trade secret protection is enforceable so long as the information remains secret. Once a trade secret is voluntarily disclosed to a third party, it could lose its legal protection.

Enhancing the Marketability of Your Parking Product
Once you have ensured that your parking innovation is properly protected, it is important to market these protections.

Parking providers continually try to improve their bottom lines without affecting customer service. Some providers solicit help from vendors to accomplish this goal by issuing a request for proposals (RFP). The goal of the RFP process is to select a vendor that offers a product or service that is best-suited to address a particular concern, after considering the cost of the proposed product or service.

The parking product and service marketplace is rife with competition. Your RFP response offers a one-shot opportunity to distinguish your product from those of your competitors. The fact that your product is legally protected through patents, copyrights, or the like should be made clear in your response. This will help potential customers understand that they will not be able to find a product with the same benefits anywhere else. This approach also helps reduce sticker shock; savvy customers realize that exclusivity justifies paying higher prices.

During the RFP interview, you should take the time to highlight your intellectual property to show customers, in person, the unique features associated with your product. Be prepared to address questions during the interview regarding whether you are willing to integrate your IP into the customer’s parking ecosystem. For example, parking meters that contain exclusive source code may not be readily integrated with handheld enforcement devices for purposes of tracking parking violations. This may require the sharing of IP between companies to satisfy a customer’s demands. In this instance, a confidentiality agreement between all parties should be considered.
In short, IP ensures exclusivity and can ultimately enhance the marketability of your product.

A Cautionary Note on Marketing Your IP
Vendors that do business with governmental entities should be aware that their RFP response may be subject to public disclosure upon request pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act or its state-level equivalent. Accordingly, any information in your RFP response that pertains to your IP could be disclosed by the governmental entity upon request by one of your competitors. Thought should be given to how to best showcase your IP without jeopardizing its security.

Finally, vendors should anticipate that sophisticated customers will want a vendor’s IP, particularly software source code, to be made available should the vendor go out of business. A technologically advanced parking meter without the vendor’s software is of little use to a customer. This concern is often addressed through use of an escrow account or a legal mechanism called a source code lock box, which is detailed in the contract between the parties. An attorney well-versed in IP law can assist with negotiating these terms.

As technology in the parking industry evolves at an accelerated pace, manufacturers and product developers should prioritize the protection of their intellectual property. This will enable you to cover your assets and, at the same time, better distinguish your product in a fiercely competitive market.

Given the complexities associated with securing protection for IP, it is recommended that you discuss your concerns with an attorney who specializes in IP law, specifically an attorney who understands the intersection of IP law and the parking industry.

Jason P. Wrona, Esq. is an associate with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC. He can be reached at jason.wrona@bipc.com or 412.562.3920.

Ralph G. Fischer, Esq., is an associate with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC. He can be reached at ralph.fischer@bipc.com or 412.392.2121.

TPP-2013-07-The Basics of Intellectual Property

Record Breaker

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A record number of parking professionals—more than 2,700—traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo, which lived up to its title of the biggest and best conference & expo in the parking industry. From education to the Expo hall to exciting events, this year’s gathering offered something for everyone and broke records in all sorts of ways.

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Forward Momentum

TPP-2013-07-Forward MomentumBy Kim Fernandez

Don’t tell anyone, but newly-elected IPI Chair Liliana Rambo, CAPP, fell into parking because she wanted a space, well, for free.

A student at Miami-Dade Community College-Downtown Campus in 1987, Rambo was chatting with a friend who worked as a cashier in the garage nearest the administrative offices, and the friend asked if Rambo might like a cashiering job too. “I thought this would be very convenient,” says Rambo. “I could go to school and then go to work without moving my vehicle, plus I would get free parking!”

She applied for the job, took the required math test, and was immediately bumped up to an accounting clerk position. And that, as they say, was how Rambo became a parking professional.

Rambo is no stranger to IPI members. She earned her Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) certification in 2001 and has served on the executive board for the past five years. She’s also no stranger to the challenges and rewards parking professionals face at all levels of their careers, having worked her way up from that first parking accounting clerk position to parking director for the Houston Airports System, with stints as parking director for on-street parking for Houston; parking services director in Hollywood, Fla.; and director of off-street facilities in Miami along the way. She’s also the mom of two teenage girls, an avid exerciser, a dancer, and scrapbooker who works hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and a longtime board member and current president of the Texas Parking and Transportation Association. It sounds exhausting, but she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Industry
“I feel very blessed to have a job where every day is different,” she says. “I am never bored and I get the opportunity to interact with many different people at all different levels.”

She says her love of parking is centered in the diversity the industry offers its professionals. “I get involved with diverse projects,” she says. “This has allowed me the opportunity to learn a little bit about many different fields, including financing, budgeting, project management, construction, marketing, technology, legislature, operations, human resources, and the list goes on and on.”

Rambo says she places a lot of value in the time and interest given to her by several industry mentors when she started out in a career she never envisioned for herself. Like many other parking professionals, she says having seasoned professionals willing to work with and teach her made a huge difference.

“Karen Wilson was the deputy director for the Miami Parking Authority,” she says. “When I met Karen, I was working as a purchasing clerk for the authority. I knew I wanted to get involved in the operations, and she found a way to get me involved. I started working on special projects for her in addition to my regular purchasing duties.”

Wilson also made sure she learned about other aspects of the industry as well. “She assigned me to a parking garage as an interim garage manager so I could learn the ropes of the off-street side, and she was very valuable showing me the political side of parking,” taking the young employee to meetings at City Hall, with civic associations, and with people with whom she’d work years later.
Looking back, Rambo notes a lot of change that’s transformed the industry in a relatively short amount of time.

“The industry has gone from having very manual and time-consuming ways of doing business to one where information is available at the click of a button,” she says. “I can still remember the days of running a special event from an apron full of cash and a handful of manual tickets. Today, that same event is run using one handheld to print a ticket and process a credit card payment!”

IPI has also changed, she says, growing and evolving into the industry’s preeminent organization.

“IPI went through some very similar transitions,” says Rambo, noting the name change from Institutional and Municipal Parking Congress (IMPC) and embracing transparent business practices. “We went from being just another parking organization to being the premier parking organization.”

Other things have evolved as well, she says. “The relationships I have formed and maintained over the years are priceless. Some of my best friends are also parking professionals and people who have been with me during my best and worst times. Parking people are the funniest, friendliest people to be around.”

Becoming an IPI volunteer and active member, she says, was instrumental to her career. “Volunteering and being part of the IPI community has allowed me the opportunity to meet, network, and learn from other colleagues. It has allowed me the flexibility to call upon many people when I need help with a project, program, or problem.”

She’s also proud of her years on the Board of Directors and the strides made by the organization in that time.

“The priorities and growth have all stemmed from having the right people doing the right jobs and placing a higher urgency and priority on making sure everyone knows the importance of parking and transportation professionals,” she says. “The growth has come from getting our voice and message out. IPI has separated itself from other industry organizations by providing the best member services, education, and networking opportunities.”

Looking Ahead
After many years as an active IPI member, Rambo has developed clear priorities for her two-year term as chair. First on that list is continuing the association’s membership growth across all industry segments.

“I think that even greater growth of our membership will come as a byproduct of the work we are doing with other parts of the industry,” she says. “The marketing of what a parking professional is and his or her importance will keep resonating with municipalities, airports, hospitals, and universities, and as a result, more and more people working in the field will get involved with IPI.”

Rambo also hopes to see parking introduced to the curricula of colleges and universities as its own specialty and not as part of another program. “We’ve just got to keep knocking on universities’ doors,” she says. “Hopefully, we will find a couple of professors who are engaged and believe that parking should be a subject all by itself.”

Her third priority, she says, is to continue growing international outreach and participation.

“I think we already have a good start with IPI’s International Parking Conference, and I hope to keep growing the exposure of this annual event,” she says. “I would like to see more articles in The Parking Professional that are written by international members and spotlight their projects. I would also like to take advantage of the time our international members spend with us during the IPI Conference & Expo, and increase their engagement.”

“The expansion into Latin America and the outreach to parking professionals in those countries made a lot of sense,” she says of IPI’s proactive measures to expand in that part of the world. “The parking operators, vendors, and others involved in the parking industry there are looking for the same things we’re looking for: they want to learn about the latest technologies and trends; they want to meet their counterparts in the U.S.; and they want to be part of the organization that is shaping parking and transportation, just like we do.”

The movement, she says, is valuable for everyone. “IPI’s involvement should continue and grow,” she explains. “We have many U.S. companies that do business in Latin America, and they recognize that this is a market that is still in its infancy as it relates to on-street parking. Once they on-street shift occurs, the opportunities for all will be amazing.”

Proud Mama
When Rambo’s not strategizing for IPI or running things back in Houston, she’s focused on home and family. Her daughters, 17-year-old Briana Nicole and 15-year-old Diana Marie “keep me busy with school or other activities,” she says. “Diana plays competitive volleyball so that keeps me going quite a bit. This will be Briana’s last year in high school, so we will be busy choosing schools and making this very important transition in our lives.”

Keeping a tight schedule and working out regularly, she says, keeps her balanced. “I truly drive myself and my team from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday,” she says. “Our goals are always ambitious and we are always busy and on the go.”

These days, she’s likely to be the mentor for new parking professionals, and she offers them her best advice. “Learn as much as you can about parking and the operation,” she says. “This can’t be done from a desk. To know, speak, and understand parking, you must know your operation better than the line staff out in the field. My other advice is to become involved in IPI and state or regional associations. They will provide you with the resources you need to meet people in the industry.”

And that, she says, is critical. “Parking professionals do not work in a vacuum,” she says. “We rely on many other industries and definitely on many government agencies and entities to get our work done. By getting the Parking Matters® message out, we are placing the parking professional on people’s minds. Our hope is to secure a seat at the table and be sure we are thought of when projects are being planned, not when they’re being finished. We will accomplish this by strengthening relationships.”

Kim Fernandez is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org.

TPP-2013-07-Forward Momentum