Tag Archives: TPP-2015-04

Guarantee Yourself a Win!

TPP-2015-04-Guarantee Yourself a Win!

By now, you know the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo, June 29–July 2 in Las Vegas, will be the parking industry’s biggest and best event, offering more professional development, hands-on product and technology experience, and networking (oh, the networking!) than ever before.
What’s on tap? A few highlights:

  • 225 exhibitors in more than 150,000 square feet of Expo hall floor space.
  • More than 3,000 parking and transportation professionals gathered in one place.
  • 60+ educational opportunities in track-specific sessions, ShopTalks, PowerPitch forums, and our popular Ignite sessions.
  • Facility tours, technology demos, and informative keynotes.
  • Park TankSM—modeled after the popular television show, where innovators will compete to see whose idea can swim with the sharks.
  • Social events that introduce you to colleagues from around the world.

And so much more!

Make the Most of It!
It’s a lot to see and do in a few short days. To help you make the most of your experience, we asked previous Conference attendees for their best tips. Use these 21 ideas to guarantee yourself a winning time in Las Vegas this summer!

1 “Decide what is the most important item needed to assist your business and work the room accordingly. Give yourself plenty of time to ask questions about the needed item, because you will find that you have even more questions. Plan the work and work the plan for making important discoveries.”

2 “Sit down, grab a drink, and get to know people in your field! Rarely do you get to talk to other parking professionals, and they have a lot of great ideas to share. As for the Expo, grab a cup of coffee and go, go, go. The vendors are incredibly friendly and have some really exciting products. Learn about them. You might find something that’ll revolutionize your work. There’s plenty of time, so hit the floor and just start walking and talking.”

3 “Spend as much time as possible on the show floor. Attend your segment-specific Shoptalk. This will provide a basis for your network and give you the most job-specific ideas. Review the seminar choices to ensure you attend the most applicable seminars for your job. But intentionally attend one seminar outside of your area or comfort zone to get exposure to those concepts and ideas. Look into CAPP certification. If you are looking for a specific product, review the map and visit those booths first. If not, just go on a path to see and talk to as many vendors as possible. You will be surprised by what you learn.”

“Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all! Before you come, think about several of your most pressing issues or ideas you hope to launch and search out educational sessions and vendors that address these topics. Then, review the vendor map and the session list for new topics, services, and equipment that may not have been on your mind but really draw your attention. If there is an organization doing something you want to emulate, make a point to visit with one of its employees during the week. Lastly, after you get back to your office, meet with your boss, peers, and team to share the best nuggets you learned so you can determine if any ideas can be implemented in your own organization.”

5 “Go to each booth and ask as many questions as you want with no fear. There are no such things as silly questions, especially in parking.”

6 “Everyone who comes in with someone from the same organization—make it a point to not hang out with your fellow employees. Break away from the norm and go meet people, sit at a different table, attend a different class session, go to a social event, run with the runners in the early morning, and hang late at night with a different crowd. Meet the vendors—they do not bite—they are great people. They support us, we support them. If you do all of this, you will meet some great and interesting folks. If not, let’s meet for drinks to discuss your social skills.”

7 “Pick the classes you want to attend regardless of the classes your colleagues want to attend. Also, hang out at night. Relationships are built after Conference hours. Don’t stand in a corner, but get out and meet as many people as you can.”

8 “Before you go, get some questions from your colleagues that you can ask on their behalf. Pack comfortably for the Expo as well as the great meet-and-greets that take place afterwards. Take full advantage of all the classes. I started my Expo day at a game called Sticky Balls and worked my way outward. Even though it may feel like you are on vacation, get up early, network, take a lot of notes, and enjoy yourself and your parking colleagues. There is nothing like this in the world.”

9 “Review the list of attendees—Who do you want to meet? Which vendors do you have to visit to learn more? Prioritize which seminars and social functions you would like to attend. If you hear about a function but did not receive an invitation, ask for one so you can learn more and meet more people.”

10 “Network, network, network. Although attending the sessions and Expo are well worth it, I feel that networking with your peers and getting firsthand knowledge from professionals in the field is most helpful.”

11 “First, take advantage of learning opportunities, such as education sessions. Next, while aimlessly wandering the Expo floor can be interesting, try to go in with a plan for specific things you’re looking for and questions you have of vendors. Finally, take advantage of opportunities to chat informally with your peers over coffee or dinner. Building those relationships now will help you time and again during the coming years.”

12 “Know what you are trying to achieve information-wise. It is a big show so use the map and target specific people/companies. Get into the CAPP program. You will gain so much knowledge and so many networking contacts.”

13 “Make a list of key things you want to see, investigate, and share with your team, and pencil in your No. 1 priority. It’s a huge conference, so see your first priority early. Plan time around the events; it’s a great way to connect with groups with whom you need time. Finally, drink lots of water.”

14 “Be sure to attend the roundtables prior to the opening of the main Conference—the most valuable part of the Conference. Come prepared with your questions.”

15 “Bring your competitive side to the conference! Think about the conference as an obstacle course—look forward to the prize potential for making your rounds in speaking with all of the exhibitors. Divide and conquer—if you have several participants from the same organization, divide up the education sessions by track/topic. And, don’t forget to have fun. Take the time to relax and enjoy the wonderful outings planned just for the particular venue and each year’s Conference attendees!”

16 “Be prepared to walk, walk, and talk, talk!”

17 “There are some really good topics and talks that one should not miss. Familiarize yourself with the schedules, topics covered, and speakers to avail yourself of this opportunity effectively.”

18 “First, go through the Conference topic index and consider your organization’s weaknesses i.e., technical, administrative. Choose those topics.”

19 “Stay on site, attend every event and session, and sponsor at whatever level you can, because it works.”

20 “Attend the social events—you will often get a better feel for sales reps and presenters away from the booths and meeting rooms. Stay open-minded to new technologies, but don’t lose focus of your operation. Pack as many business cards as you think you will need, and then add more.”

21 “Be brash. Engage people you don’t know at opportunities like vendor receptions, awards lunches, and even in the hotel lobby. You’ll be surprised at how many people you will encounter who have similar interests, information about parking programs, or interesting thoughts about things they have encountered at the Conference.”

TPP-2015-04-Guarantee Yourself a Win!

An Image Turnaround

TPP-2015-04-An Image TurnaroundBy Marc Denson

It was a beautiful morning when I reported to work years ago, but within a few hours the real picture began to unfold: a parking unit in chaos with only one employee remaining after an internal affairs investigation; 70 percent of meters were more than 30 years old; no system for revenue accounting; no software management systems; no operations or procedures manuals; no tools or parts for the meter shop; only $15,000 per year to replace and repair meters; unsafe enforcement vehicles; a collapsing ancient building; citation collections of only 15 percent; and a department equally despised by all—citizens, business owners and the police department itself. Mind you, this was my first day on the job and first introduction to the parking industry.

Imagine my first five minutes: I rode the elevator to the third floor to hear two police sergeants discussing the new “head meter maid” starting today and what kind of idiot took that job. Then one turned to me and asked, “Who are you? I haven’t seen you here before.”

“I am that idiot.”
Why would anyone want this job? Well, why not? The only way to go from that day was up! Overhauling or rebuilding the existing parking program in Corpus Christi, Texas, was not an option—we had to start from scratch. Months of industry research beginning in September 2010 yielded some interesting results. First, there really wasn’t any industry standard program. Second, it seemed while the industry was changing by leaps and bounds, people hated enforcement officers. No matter what. That was a huge problem.

So where do we start? Will Rogers once said, “Nobody likes change except a wet baby!” Oh, how true a statement. I learned in my five years as a church pastor that change was needed in everyone else’s department in the church but never in the person’s at question that moment. And that carried over to parking.

Establishing Direction

Knowing I had to win over the public, businesses owners, downtown stakeholders, and the city council (not to mention my bosses), this was going to be no easy task. For me, the only answer was to establish an ambassador-style enforcement program. This meant first defining an objective and then building a new image around it by hiring, training, and managing to that objective. Structuring parking as an objective-based program instead of one that’s revenue driven is difficult for many to grasp—we are frequently evaluated by our revenue. However, when revenue becomes the byproduct of our objective and not the objective itself, it is much easier to train and develop people with a purpose and show the public the value of what we do.

After several months of surveying business owners, citizens, business associations and organizations, the downtown management district, the convention bureau, some council members. and the mayor, we were finally able to establish an objective that would speak to all what we do: “To create a directed parking program that serves the citizens, visitors, and City of Corpus Christi!” It is simple, direct, and easy to remember.

An Image Makeover
At this point, the real work of rebuilding our image began. The term “ambassador,” first used in the 14th century, is defined as “an authorized representative or messenger.” When a team embraces the ambassador-style approach, the way its members interact with the public and each other changes drastically. Developing an ambassadorship training program with focused modules is essential and the key element to success.

Developing a program also means truly believing what you preach. I not only believe it, I eat and sleep it so much that I personally teach the first day of class. Our program includes modules in conflict resolution, customer service, standardized responses, understanding and empathizing with the violator, the importance of image, team support, and developing objective-based solutions. Enforcement vehicles are stocked with convention bureau literature, and all employees must complete the Certified Tourism Ambassador program, a national tourism and customer service program offered through various cities’ convention bureaus; I am a certified instructor for the program.
Management and leadership are simplified when all issues are managed to our objective. When an employee fails and needs to be reprimanded, we ask him or her to quote the unit’s objective, and then answer a simple question: “How did your actions represent our objective?” This limits responses and keeps the focus on the objective of ambassadorship and off the you’re-a-bad-person approach. In the same manner, we acknowledge successes with our objective. Telling someone that the way he or she handled a situation exemplifies the word “serves” in our objective is a great compliment.

Giving Back
Our codes of ordinance were amended to create a parking improvement fund for downtown revitalization. Basing this program on those of other forward-thinking cities, we created a structure to give meter revenue back to downtown revitalization. During a three-year period, we have scaled that program up, allotting 40 percent of gross meter revenue back to downtown revitalization projects. Business owners and downtown stakeholders see us as part of the solution to downtown improvement.

We also worked on a little peace, love, and understanding. If citizens approach an enforcement officer before a citation is issued, we allow them to feed the meter to avoid a fine. We see a two-fold issue here: First, if losing $30 on a citation creates a positive interaction with a citizen, it’s worth it. Secondly, having drivers feed the meter, albeit late, helps reinforce a subconscious reaction to feed a meter when they see it, helping avoid future citations.

Taking care with our words also helps. Beginning conversations with violators by saying, “I need your help,” “Would you please move out of the loading zone, I really don’t want to write you a citation,” or “Can you do me a favor?” triggers positive reactions.

Adjudication Counts

Ambassadorship doesn’t just end with meters and enforcement but carries through to adjudication as well. In 2010, the city was still adjudicating parking citations as criminal violations. I was charged with establishing a civil hearing court and decriminalizing the process. Using the same focus as enforcement, we tackled adjudication by first replacing the word “defendant,” with “customer,” and calling what used to be a “court” a “hearing office” instead.

Again, we focused on the objective, making revenue and conviction rates a byproduct of an effective program. A key approach was this: 70 percent of our citizens’ only interaction with city government is when they get a ticket and have to pay it. What image do we want to leave them with?

Using payment kiosks instead of tellers and walk-in adjudication with no appointment needed has given us an average turnaround time of less than seven minutes. Needless to say, our customers far prefer this over the old system.
Converting to electronic ticket writers with mandatory photographs of violations and installing a 50-inch flat-screen television in the hearing office was instrumental in our approach. Customers see the images of expired meters or improper parking. Within minutes, they usually joke with us that it looks like they are at fault and ask what the fine is.

Most people immediately assumed this idea was to improve our conviction rate, but that simply wasn’t the case. Human nature is almost always to blame someone else for something we did. How many times have we heard people blame the nasty old enforcement officer for their citation, or say they were just two minutes late getting back, so it’s not their fault? By teaching enforcement officers and court personnel to understand the concept of right vs. right rather than right vs. wrong, we redirect the customer’s subconscious blame-a-meter. As silly as this may sound, it works!

How has our ambassador-style approach affected our parking program? The city council allotted us an additional $300,000 in 2012-2013 to upgrade meters. Council raised meter rates 200 percent to increase the amount we had for revitalization efforts. Revenues have more than doubled as a byproduct of our objective. Collections on citations went from 15 percent to 76 percent the first year of the new court. Police Chief Floyd Simpson expanded our mission to include neighborhood enforcement of parking issues, addressing quality of life by getting rid of junked vehicles on streets, organizing parking for a cleaner neighborhood appearance, and keeping sidewalks cleared of vehicles to ensure safe passage for those with disabilities and children going down sidewalks on bicycles, skates, and skateboards. In July 2012, the police also shifted the taxi cab inspector’s office into our operation so it could take advantage of the same ambassador-style approach we applied to parking.

The most important result to me has been the respect and acknowledgement my team has received and the image we now project. Our phones ring daily with people asking to help clean up the parking issues in their neighborhoods and downtown. Meter revenue has led to a launch of “Light Up Corpus Christi,” which is a beta project to convert downtown lighting to LED to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, help reduce crime, and improve public safety.
Taking on a project like this will be a tough road and you might seem to be the only one on it. Here are three pieces of advice for those up to the challenge:

  • Embrace boneheaded ideas. It will amaze you how often someone thinks your bonehead idea is a stroke of genius.
  • Listen to your newest employees who know nothing about parking. They see things the way the public does, which is invaluable insight.
  • Chuck the old adage of “think outside the box.” Instead, say, “Box? There’s a box?”
  • Be an innovator and embrace change, even when it scares the heck out of you!

Marc Denson is operations manager for the parking control division of the Corpus Christi Police Department. He can be reached at marcusd@cctexas.com.

TPP-2015-04-An Image Turnaround

Jurassic Parking

TPP-2015-04-Jurassic ParkingBy Duke Hanson

While a lot of people take parking for granted, the one thing I’ve learned in my 35-year career in the business is that you can never stop learning. And while registering for the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo (my 22nd annual), I was pulled back to the educational sessions I attended or moderated last year in Texas. Session topics included multi-system integration, big data, and the Internet of Things. The overarching theme was the accessibility we now have to program operational and financial data.

Many recent IPI webinars and The Parking Professional articles have also focused on these same topics. While I know I risk sounding like the archetypal granddad with stories of needing to park five miles away in a blizzard when I was your age, these trends make me recall my start in the parking business—the era of Jurassic Parking.

The Beginning
My first day on the job with the District of Columbia Bureau of Parking’s towing program (January 2, 1979—the first day of the late Marion Barry’s first term in office), we towed at least 400 illegally parked cars, all of which were processed and tracked through voice communication and handwritten ledgers. The process worked liked this: One of our 100 parking enforcement officers (PEOs) ticketed a vehicle for a towable violation and then contacted the appropriate dispatcher. The dispatcher filled out a tow request card and forwarded it to another dispatcher who assigned it to the closest tow truck. (In many respects, it was similar to a taxi dispatching operation in which operators field calls from customers and a dispatcher finds the closest available cab.)

After the tow truck impounded the vehicle, the tow driver would radio the dispatcher and provide confirmation of the tow with relevant information, including—most importantly—to which of our three impoundment lots the vehicle was towed. We then used those tow cards to create handwritten ledgers, which were our information resource for responding to the (dude) where’s-my-car phone calls. These lists were copied and sent to the police department so they could be entered into the local law enforcement database and avoid the filing of erroneous stolen car reports.

This was all pretty tedious stuff that is now typically processed through wireless or Ethernet interfaces between handheld ticketing devices and/or mobile data terminals in the field and one or more back-office systems. These near-real-time communications serve double duty to make the process significantly faster for the municipality and easier and faster for motorists to retrieve their vehicles (without the panic of thinking the vehicle was stolen when they returned before the tow information was fully processed).

Technology (So to Speak)
Speaking of handheld ticket issuance devices, they were still a few years—possibly a decade—away, so any ­ticket-related tabulations or analysis were all done by hand. I credit myself with being way ahead of the ­techno-curve by convincing the powers-that-were to invest in a bill counter, which greatly reduced the time required to manually tabulate PEO ticket issuance counts from more than an hour to mere minutes; however, any PEO activity gap or geo-based enforcement analysis still had to be done by hand, ticket by ticket. Today, most handheld issuance systems provide this information with keystrokes and mouse clicks, if any intervention is required at all.

The software available to us in those days was housed on mainframe computers, and system development and/or modification was no easy task. Programmers were required to make hard code fixes and enhancements, including management information systems (MIS) reports. With extensive work orders to plow through, report development was usually at the bottom of the priority totem pole for programmers. Delivery expectations were appropriately dampened and, more often than not, once a report was developed, it was obsolete. The reports that were available, including scofflaw hot lists, were generated on voluminous (and wasteful) greenbar paper.

In most municipalities, license plates listed in a boot report were presented in alpha-numeric order by state and then by plate. A notable exception to that was the first iteration of the boot list generated by the San Francisco Municipal Court. In the late 1980s, I provided operational consulting as the City of San Francisco got its booting program off the ground. Plates in that city’s boot report were listed randomly, with no logical order that would make a search possible. With the advent of license plate reader (LPR)-enabled enforcement, boot crews can scan between 700–1,000 plates per hour, which is probably more than 50 plates in the time it took my San Francisco compatriots to check for one plate in their old boot reports.

The Moral

Any grandfatherly parable needs a moral to the story, so I’m obligated to pass one along. Parking managers now have instantaneous data at their fingertips. The number of tickets issued the prior day by officer or by beat, compared to any desired previous timeframe, can be accessed first thing the next day via a dashboard. Revenue retrieved from a meter collection route, contrasted with trend data for that same route, can be viewed using the same tool. Really, almost any key performance indicator (KPI) can be made available to parking managers on their desktops while they enjoy their first cup of coffee, meaning that any performance red flags can be raised so that investigative and corrective strategies can be developed.

If there is a dramatic dip in collection route revenue, is it a product of external or internal theft; a lack of adequate, ongoing enforcement; or a change in the adjacent parking generators? Identifying the cause may require some time in field or analysis of system-generated report data for other program areas.

For those who haven’t experienced how difficult it can be to get this data, it might be easy to overlook tools such as dashboards or dynamic reporting. Or, for those who relate all too well to some of the stories I’ve told, it may be worth assessing whether what you have on hand is being used to its full utility for making your life easier. Business intelligence and the data analysis it entails rely heavily on aggregation, which are readily supported by the open architecture that is now the norm in our industry. Even a technology pterodactyl like me has learned that we have the opportunity to connect devices in the field with enterprise systems and services for the collection and processing of important programmatic data.

I urge you to reach out to your internal IT resources and/or your system vendors to better understand all possible points of connectivity, implement those system linkages, and optimize the flow of this business data through the dynamic reporting tools that should be available to you.

Duke Hanson has 40 years of transportation and parking experience, including positions in both the public and private sectors, and was a member of IPI’s Board of Directors for six years. He can be reached at djhansonjr7@gmail.com.

TPP-2015-04-Jurassic Parking

Locking Down

TPP-2015-04-Locking DownBy Bill Smith

During the past decade, data breaches have become increasingly common. Retail and healthcare leaders such as Home Depot, Target, TJX, and Anthem, Inc., have been the targets of sophisticated attacks through which millions of customers’ information was compromised. In this electronic age when our personal and financial data is often stored online, data security will continue to be one of the most challenging issues facing organizations that collect payments or personal data and store or transmit it online.

Unfortunately, the data breach trend has reached the parking industry. In the past year, several parking companies have experienced breaches. And while their effects were limited—certainly nothing close to the extent of the previously mentioned breaches—they illustrate the vulnerable position in which parking organizations find themselves.

“Everyone who accepts credit cards is at risk,” says Patrick Brooke, director of technical services at Sentry Control Systems.

Brian McGann, parking consultant and data security expert with Walker Parking Consultants, says parking operators are particularly vulnerable today.

“There are bad guys out there who are always looking for new targets,” he says. “Now that they have found some soft systems in the parking industry, they will continue to look for new targets in the industry.”

Ensuring Compliance
Both Brooke and McGann say the key to ensuring that a parking system’s operations are secure is to make sure that they are PCI compliant. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. The PCI DSS is administered and managed by the PCI SSC, an independent body that was created by the major payment card brands Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB. Before purchasing a credit card processing system, operators should visit pcisecuritystandards.org to ensure the software they are considering has recently been audited and is PCI PA-DSS compliant.

Of course, not all threats come from outsiders. Employees, ex-employees, service personnel, and contractors can all turn out to be threats. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that security packages are set up to give the least amount of privilege necessary to perform a given job and to remove access as soon as it is no longer required.
McGann cautions that as important as PCI compliance is, it’s not always enough.

“Owners buy systems that get audited out of the box, but that doesn’t mean that the software will be secure in their own systems,” he says. “Security is difficult and takes a lot of work, and owners and operators need to do their background work. There can be many holes, and owners and operators need to constantly be upgrading their systems and keeping up with new standards to keep ahead of the bad guys.”

McGann stresses that most organizations should have a digital security expert, either in-house or as a consultant. That expert should understand the risks and tools available to protect against those risks, and he or she should know how to implement penetration tests to ensure the system remains invulnerable to attacks.

“This type of protection can be costly, but the cost of a breach is much higher,” McGann says. “Lawsuits and fines arising from inadequate security can cost millions, not to mention the public relations costs and loss of trust among customers.”

Brooke agrees that achieving 100 percent PCI compliance can be expensive and even cost-prohibitive for smaller parking owners. To offset the cost, he recommends relying on technology providers who offer assistance in meeting PCI compliance, including offering application and operating system security updates and patches and instant notifications when malware or threats are detected.

He also advises owners and operators not to assume that a security system is secure just because it is new.
“I met an operator a few months ago who had recently installed a system and assumed his data was secure,” he says. “However, when we checked, we found that the software he had installed wasn’t Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) validated. He learned the hard way that not all new out-of-the-box solutions are up to the job.”

Tokenization and End-To-End Encryption
According to David Leppek, president of Transaction Services, a transaction management company based in Omaha, Neb., much of the security problem facing the parking industry revolves around how operators are handling data. He says that rather than storing credit card data, operators should rely on tokenization to record customer data.

A token is a complex alphanumeric number that’s tied to a customer and his or her payment type. The token has no meaning or value on its own, but rather is merely an identifier that is tied to an individual customer.

“Tokenization is an added level of security against the types of backdoor data breaches that have hit the parking industry,” he says. “If a criminal exploits a back door to try to steal data, all he’ll find is a token. There’s nothing valuable to steal.”

Leppek does offer one word of caution to owners, though: Make sure you aren’t held hostage by the token. Owners should be able to move their tokens from provider to provider if they find a better security package in the future.

“Tokenization offers a level of security that’s rare in the parking industry,” he says. “There are still owners who keep credit card numbers in shoe boxes and Rolodexes!”

Encryption is another security element that’s vital to parking owners and operators. Improper encryption can undermine security and inadvertently leave parking owners and operators at risk.

“There are some solutions that have the provider take credit card data and transmit it to the security provider to be tokenized,” Leppek says. “If that data isn’t immediately encrypted before being submitted for tokenization, it can be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

Leppek advises that every credit card’s data be encrypted the moment it is swiped. Further, he recommends that
advanced encryption standards with 256 bit encryption be used, and that the data be transmitted over a 256 bit SSL tunnel.

Back to Cash
The spate of data breaches in recent years has many people concerned about the well-being of their data—­understandably so—and more willing to use cash to pay for parking. According to Bryan Alexander, Crane Payment Innovations, while cash has always been a popular way to pay for parking, recent breaches have further increased old-fashioned money’s prominence.

“People are more mindful of where they are using credit cards, and they are more likely to use cash,” Alexander says. “When parkers have the option of paying with cash, they can just pay and walk away without worrying about whether their personal and financial data is at risk.”

“Parking owners and operators came to rely more on credit card payment because the transactions were quicker and reduced the risk of theft,” he continues. “However, today’s cash payment equipment has improved by leaps and bounds, permitting extremely fast transactions and allowing parkers to pay and be on their way in just a matter of seconds.

“Cash payment is also incredibly secure and efficient today,” Alexander explains. “Modern machines come equipped with two to four recycling modules, eliminating the cost of having staff visit machines daily to retrieve the cash. And because all modules are always locked and monitored by internal sensors, no one is able to touch the cash until it arrives in the counting room. This eliminates the risk of theft.”


Of course, whether a facility is accepting cash, credit, or both, every system needs to have the capability to adapt as new threats appear and new security tools are introduced to fight them. Adaptability will be particularly important in the coming months for American owners and operators as the U.S. moves to the Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) credit card standard (see the March issue for more). EMV, which has been the European standard for credit card technology for more than a decade, revolves around integrated circuit cards rather than magnetic stripes to authenticate credit and debit card transactions.

Soon, U.S. consumers will use credit cards with chips inside them. The chips provide more secure authentication to protect consumers’ data. Like all retailers and service providers that accept credit cards, parking facilities need to be able to accept EMV payments by October 2015 or risk facing liability if a fraudulent transaction takes place.
The credit breach trend that has bedeviled the retail world for years has finally come to the parking industry. It’s a challenge that must be met by parking owners and operators, and it’s not going away anytime soon. However, by turning to standards that meet PCI requirements, owners and operators can dramatically reduce the risk they face.

Bill Smith, APR, is principal of Smith-Phillips Strategic Communications and contributing editor of The Parking Professional. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com or 603.491.4280.

TPP-2015-04-Locking Down

Mixing It Up

TPP-2015-04-Mixing It UpBy Bill Kavanagh, AIA, NCARB

Mixed-use projects with parking facilities are becoming more common. As land becomes ­scarcer, building a freestanding garage may be a missed opportunity. Often, parking authorities and other parking entities are involved in mixed-use projects that include multiple owners, both public and private. Let’s examine issues associated with such mixed-use projects from the perspective of the parking garage owner. Typically, the garage owner would enter into a development agreement with the developer, who engages the design team and construction manager.

What Does Mixed Use Mean?
A mixed-use parking project is any building that blends a combination of residential, office, retail, cultural, or institutional uses with parking in which those functions are physically and functionally integrated. Mixed-use parking projects can range from the simple to the complex. Examples are garages with ground-floor retail, garages beside connected buildings, garage podiums beneath other uses, and underground garages with buildings above. Generally, costs rise correspondingly as projects increase from the simple to the complex.

The Cost Benefits of Open Parking Garages
A highly cost-effective way to provide structured parking is with an open parking garage. The International Building Code (IBC) lists the criteria that must be satisfied to gain the benefits of an open parking garage. The requirements pertain to the openness of the garage, with minimum required lengths and area of openings on the perimeter. If the IBC requirements are satisfied, the open garage does not need to be sprinklered, mechanically ventilated, fire alarmed, or have enclosed stairs. Because garages generally have large floor areas, this translates into significant savings, especially with very large garages.

The cost per parking space of an open parking garage can be used as the baseline when analyzing the construction costs for parking spaces in a mixed-use project. For example, if an open parking garage costs $18,000 per space and a mixed-use project with parking costs $24,000 per space, you know there is a $6,000 per-space premium. Understanding what contributes to this premium is beneficial when negotiating the allocation of costs for the different parts of the project, especially when there are multiple owners involved.

Parking Efficiency
(Square Feet per Parking Space)
Understanding the efficiency of an open, long-span parking garage compared with a garage in a mixed-use project can be another way of understanding cost impacts. Long-span parking structures can range between 300 and 360 square feet per parking space, depending on a number of factors. Long-span structures do not have intermediate columns in the parking module. In other words, there are no columns between adjacent spaces at the back of parking stalls.

The efficiency per stall (square feet per space) is a function of many factors. An optimal, long-span garage can range from 300 to 325 square feet per space. Typical features might include eight-feet, six-inch stall widths, elevator and stair towers outboard, no parking access revenue control lanes, no reservoir spaces inside garage, no speed ramps, end bay parking, and a regular rectangular footprint. For planning purposes, 325 square feet per space is a good rule of thumb for an optimal garage. Less optimal, long-span garages can range from 330 to 360 square feet per space. For planning purposes, 350 square feet per space is a good rule of thumb for less- optimal garages.

Short-span parking structures generally can range between 360 and 400 square feet per parking space. Short-span structures have intermediate columns in the parking module and are usually part of mixed-use structures. The additional column lines are often a function of the building program above. The poorer efficiency results from these additional structural elements, elevator and stair cores, shafts, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) rooms for the other uses.

As an example, if your mixed-use garage project that includes a hotel, office, and retail space has a parking garage efficiency of 540 square feet per space, it should be clear that the layout of the garage was seriously compromised for the benefit of
another part of the project.

Mixed-Use Garage Configurations
The cost of a parking space increases as the complexity increases. Providing a parking stall in a surface parking lot is fairly straightforward, provided you have the land available. A single-use, open parking garage would be the next step in providing parking. A general rule of thumb for an open parking garage is that it will be approximately three to four times the cost of a surface parking lot space.

In more urban environments, it is common for garages to incorporate ground-floor retail space. The additional costs associated with the inclusion of retail include waterproofing, insulation, glazing, interior finishes, and MEP systems. The garage is also likely less efficient. With ground-floor retail in a garage, it is not uncommon to use a speed ramp to get vehicles up to the parking levels as quickly as possible to maximize the area of retail space or create sufficient head room beneath the parking levels. The speed ramp adds additional square footage to the garage but does not allow for additional parking, as it is too steep.

The next mixed-use garage configuration would be a freestanding parking garage adjacent—but ­connected—to another building. An example would be an office or residential tower adjacent to a multi-story parking garage. The building code has requirements regarding the fire separation and connections between these two occupancies. If done correctly, each building can be treated as a separate building. The benefits to the garage include optimal structural system, optimal efficiency per space, and not having to be sprinklered, mechanically ventilated, fire alarmed, or to have enclosed stairs. In addition, it would be easy to allocate costs between different owners. The shared costs would be limited to the separations and shared foundations where the garage and building are connected. If code requirements are not satisfied, you may have the added cost to sprinkler the parking garage so the office or residential tower can gain the code-allowed benefits of having a fully sprinklered building.

If there is insufficient land for a parking garage beside another building type, then having a parking garage podium beneath other uses would be the next step. This introduces another level of complexity. Allocation of costs between multiple owners in a complex mixed-use project is a difficult task. Some of the cost impacts for a mixed-use garage podium that need to be allocated are:

  • Extensive shared foundations.
  • Common utility services; emergency generators if shared.
  • Shared common areas (lobbies, MEP rooms, loading dock, etc.).
  • Garage roof (amenity for uses above but also no snow removal required for garage interior).
  • Additional columns or transfer trusses.
  • Shearwalls for the stability of the buildings above (loss of spaces).
  • Waterproofing above ground-floor retail spaces.
  • Fire separations between the garage and other occupancies.
  • Insulation between the garage and other occupancies.
  • Garage sprinklers because of occupancies above.
  • Loss of parking spaces/loss of efficiency.

Finally, the last mixed-use configuration would be when parking is provided in underground levels of a mixed project. Many of the same issues associated with a garage podium design exist, along with additional costs for excavation, retaining walls, waterproofing, mechanical ventilation, and enclosed stairs and elevator lobbies.

Understanding how a mixed-use project with parking is designed has cost impacts. If you are responsible for the garage costs of the project, then you want to see an open parking garage, preferably beside the other use groups. If that is not possible, then an open parking garage podium is probably preferable to an underground parking garage.

Bill Kavanagh, AIA, NCARB, is director of parking design with The Harman Group, Inc. He can be reached at bkavanagh@harmangroup.com or 610.337.3360.

TPP-2015-04-Mixing It Up

Leading the Discussion

TPP-2015-04-Leading the Discussion

By Bill Smith

In more than 20 years of working with parking planners, one of the most common frustrations I’ve heard is that municipal decision-makers are sometimes hesitant to try new planning approaches even though their benefits are clear. The problem is that decision-makers sometimes worry about public opposition deriving from a lack of understanding of how these planning approaches will benefit a community.

I recently experienced this when I attended a public meeting to introduce a consultant’s recommendations for new downtown parking rules. The city traditionally limited parking in the most valuable downtown spaces to two hours, and the consultant was recommending eliminating these restrictions. It became clear that this proposal was based not on planning considerations, but rather on the fact that people didn’t like time limits.

The question of how long to permit parking ceased to be a parking planning issue and became a communication issue. When municipalities make planning decisions based primarily on public opinion, it’s an example of bad planning. And it’s unnecessary.

We live in a communication age and it’s easier than ever to communicate with—to educate—the public. There are so many outlets for reaching people—traditional press, websites, social media, brochures—that there’s no excuse for not making the effort to communicate with key constituencies.

And there are few industries in which constant communication is as important. Parking is a complex discipline. Often, the decisions that are made by planners seem counterintuitive to people who don’t understand the nuances of parking planning. For instance, the thought of raising rates for parking in retail districts used to keep shop owners up at night. But planners know that by properly regulating rates, they can influence parking behavior in such a way that shoppers will always be able to find convenient parking near their destinations. When municipal planners and their consultants communicate these benefits and information about where long-term parkers can park, people generally support the sensible policies.

People may not like to have their parking sessions limited to two hours (and shop owners want their customers to be happy). But when they understand that the point of time limits is to promote turnover to make sure there are always spaces available adjacent to shops, business owners will gladly support the policy. And as long as there are viable long-term options nearby (and parkers know about them), their customers will see the light, too.

When you apply communication solutions to these planning challenges, they cease to be problems. Parking plans should come with communication plans that lay out challenges that are likely to arise when the parking plan is introduced and offer a blueprint for proactively addressing them. In addition, communication plans should also offer timelines for reaching out to the media, developing web-based and other marketing materials, and initiating social media campaigns.

In the time limits example, planners should have begun to educate the public about the importance of time limits weeks before introducing their plan to the community. They could have made presentations to the local chamber of commerce and met individually with business owners and other key decision-makers. Not only would this have won support for their proposals, but it would also have framed the public discussion in their favor. They wouldn’t have to play defense because the narrative would already have been that time limits benefit downtown businesses. If cities and towns wait to begin the public communication process until they introduce their plans, more often than not, they have already lost control of the narrative.

Likewise, media outreach should begin before the plan is introduced. This can be done with off-the-­record briefings and the distribution of media materials. By preparing the media in this way, cities and towns can influence media coverage to revolve around the desired narrative.

Finally, social media campaigns and the introduction of materials such as websites and brochures should be timed to educate the public about plans and their benefits. A comprehensive communication plan that addresses anticipated community concerns and offers messaging to address them, along with a step-by-step communication strategy and schedule, can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to gaining public support. It can also eliminate the risk of making bad planning decisions because you’re worried about public opinion.

Bill Smith, APR, is principal of Smith-Phillips Strategic Communications and contributing editor of The Parking Professional. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com or 603.491.4280.

TPP-2015-04-Leading the Discussion

A New Evaluation Criterion For Parking Equipment

TPP-2015-04-A New Evaluation Criterion For Parking EquipmentBy Vicki Pero, SPRH

Not so long ago when an organization considered facility parking equipment for purchase, there were three common areas of consideration: ease of use, durability, and revenue control and reporting. Like many other things in our industry, the criteria have expanded in recent years to include a fourth category: sustainability.

While the validity of climate change concerns continue to be debated in some circles, in the parking industry—as many others—sustainability has become an area of focus, as expectations from consumers have grown. Another driver is the recognition of the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit, with a focus on profit. Significant savings can be realized when equipment is more efficient and/or costs less to produce.

Materials used and manufacturing processes are the first considerations. What sort of environmental effect does equipment production have, and is the manufacturer taking steps to reduce this and offset its carbon footprint? Is recycling existing components an option during the installation process, and is it possible to retrofit any of the existing equipment housing to avoid the use of new materials and resources? The ultimate goal is cradle-to-cradle production—a phrase made popular by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s, referring to the achievement of a waste-free manufacturing process.

Resource Use
The next consideration is resource use by the facility’s equipment. Opportunities to conserve resources can be found by reducing energy consumption and supplies. Factors that influence equipment energy consumption include whether devices can enter a sleep mode when not in use, along with screen displays used by customers and employees and their related energy requirements. In addition, depending on where the equipment will be located, each device’s ability to produce its own power through solar panels is investigated. This is becoming an increasingly common option in situations where equipment will have access to sunlight. In terms of supplies, some parking apps, license plate recognition solutions, and other equipment packages reduce or eliminate paper use by integrating customer and enforcement activity into smartphones.

Carbon Use
The last, and perhaps most impactful, sustainability factor is how the equipment will reduce customer vehicle idling and associated carbon usage. This is a much broader category than the others because it can take into consideration lane design, wayfinding solutions within and outside the facility, space availability technologies, and transaction processing equipment. It can even extend to how equipment can integrate with apps and websites that provide real-time data about space availability.

With respect to the actual revenue control equipment, ease of use is evaluated to determine how long, on average, it takes for a customer to process a transaction and the speed at which the equipment can do its part. Sourcing equipment that is able to move transactions out of entrance and exit lanes can have a dramatic effect on vehicle idling, so placement of these units and the ability to maintain or increase revenue control in these modes of operation are priorities.

We’ve just scratched the surface in terms of defining the sustainability features highlighted above, but the industry does have a program and a roadmap you can follow available through the Green Parking Council (GPC, an affiliate of IPI). The GPC offers its Certified Green Garage program and related Certification Standard publication that can help you find your way if you are looking for ways to make sure your facility revenue control equipment is more sustainable. Find out more at greenparkingcouncil.org.

Vicki Pero, SPRH, is principal of the Marlyn Group, LLC, and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. She can be reached at vpero@marlyngroupllc.com or 800.825.6310.

TPP-2015-04-A New Evaluation Criterion For Parking Equipment

Five Key Drivers for Financial and Sustainable Success

TPP-2015-04-Five Key Drivers for Financial and Sustainable SuccessBy Daniel Ciarcia

Most of us are keenly aware of the changing global climate and resulting critical environmental challenges. A recent Yale University study reported that 87 percent of Americans believe mankind is more (or at least equally as) responsible for climate change than natural events. We agree on the need for action, but individuals and businesses often need an extra push to make meaningful changes to reverse the global climate trend.

As it turns out, the financial motivations for parking operators to embrace environmental sustainability are compelling. Here are the top five reasons to improve your bottom line—and the environment!

Lower Operating Costs
The easiest and most immediately beneficial actions you can take will cut your facility’s operating costs, often with payback periods of less than two years. Upgrading to efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology and adding lighting controls can save 70-90 percent of your electric bill. Experts also say that installing ventilation systems with sensors that turn garage fans on only when the air quality requires ventilation and incorporating fans that run at different speeds can cut energy costs by up to 90 percent. Commissioning and re-commissioning your facility at regular intervals can return almost $6 for every $1 spent. Even diligent recycling can divert enough from the waste stream to reduce waste-hauling charges and increase profits from selling the recycled commodities.

Increase Revenue
Increasing your use of existing garage space before building more parking helps preserve land for other purposes and reduces your environmental impact. You can increase space efficiency by sharing parking spaces between different types of patrons with varying needs. For example, allowing residential high-rise and commercial office tenants to share parking spaces reduces overall parking need, alleviates demand for new parking facility construction, and lowers total operating costs, maximizing revenues and operational efficiency per square foot.

Attract New Business

Environmentally friendly parking facilities can attract more customers, increasing occupancy rates from conventional drivers and tapping into new markets. Electric vehicle (EV) drivers will seek out parking facilities that provide car charging equipment, while facilities that encourage ridesharing (carpools, vanpools) by reserving preferred spacing or offering other promotions will also attract new customers. You’ll sell more spaces and the garage’s ancillary services and retail operations will benefit from attracting these new markets. Providing safe and convenient bicycle parking will attract bicyclists, who will likely spend money near the facility that ultimately flows back.

Customer Satisfaction and Retention
Environmentally friendly facilities provide customers with a more satisfying experience. Decks that are well-lit with high-efficiency fixtures and bulbs allow pedestrians to feel safer and more comfortable. Efficient lighting that reduces glare and enables clear driver visibility reduces accidents inside the facility. Eliminating harsh and highly emissive cleaning chemicals, surface coatings, paints, and sealants is healthier for patrons and reduces complaints of poor air quality and breathing ailments.

Reputation and Branding

Finally, consistent and credible parking facility “greening” builds a positive brand reputation. Patrons are more loyal to brands they believe represent their values. Businesses that practice environmental sustainability and social responsibility increase their social license to operate, creating a win-win for you, your customers, and the environment.

A Windfall for You and the Environment

The ecological benefits of implementing environmentally sustainable practices within any organization are numerous, but it is hard to find an area more fertile for improving the bottom line than greening your business. The U.S. Green Building Council has concluded that LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified buildings enjoy a 3 to 6 percent price premium and 8 to 10 percent higher occupancy rates than non-LEED-rated buildings. If parking operators realize even a portion of this revenue increase, it represents a potential windfall for operators who go green.

Daniel Ciarcia is founder of Two Willows Consulting, LLC, and a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. He can be reached at dan@twowillowsconsulting.com or 617.600.8775.

TPP-2015-04-Five Key Drivers for Financial and Sustainable Success