Better Urban Living Through Parking Solutions
This article was previously published on Meeting of the Minds, and is republished here with permission.
It’s the end of a long week. You and your better half are due for a much-needed date night. The kids are with the sitter, the car is washed, and the mood is set. Dressed to the nines, the two of you drive downtown where you’ve scored reservations at the hottest restaurant. You leave plenty early to account for the time it’ll take to find parking.
But apparently, not early enough. It took twice as long to find a spot, and half a mile away from the restaurant at that. You finally arrive, late, sweaty and frazzled. The hostess shakes her head as she motions to the wait-listed couple who took your table.
Does it really have to be like that?
The growing problem of scarce parking doesn’t just ruin your dinner plans (though that’s reason enough for a change). People cruising the streets for places to park add unnecessary traffic to the already congested roads; and combined with taxis and ride-sharing cars dropping off passengers and patrolling for fares, vehicle density in city centers is only getting worse.
With 88% of U.S. commuters using private vehicles, and millions on the roads at the same time of the day, streets don’t have the capacity to efficiently handle the demand for more space. And when 30% of trafficcongestion in downtown areas is cars looking for parking, solving the parking problem will go a long way toward easing overall gridlock; especially when much of this problem is a result of lack of information. Had you knownthere were a handful of available spots on a side street merely one block away from the restaurant, you wouldn’t have spent that extra twenty minutes searching in vain.
Providing Real Time Information About Available Parking
Smarter technology can help. Currently available parking solutions can detect when vehicles are entering or leaving spaces and combine pricing data from city-owned and private spaces, then share that information with drivers looking for available spaces to make navigation and parking decisions faster while easing traffic congestion.
Parking information can be integrated into existing applications, such as MapQuest, to steer drivers toward open parking. Getting better information into the hands of drivers will help cities make the most of their highest-valued real estate: on-street parking spaces.
Benefits for Cities and Private Parking Owners
Cities and private parking owners can use parking analytics to create policies and rates, adapting them to changing conditions or shifts in demand. Parking analytics help managers better understand pricing and maximize revenue in different parts of the city. This can also be adjusted for special events or if new businesses move into a location.
Parking managers can use historical and current availability and events to help decide when to expand or contract available parking, to enforce violations, and optimize staffing and associated services.
A cloud-based solution can easily transmit that information to those who need it and can be continually upgraded and modified to adapt to changing needs.
The Future of Intelligent Parking
The World Economic Forum estimates that 48% of parking spaces will change function once autonomous vehicles (AV) are widely in use. But in order to know how a parking space will change its function it’s important to know how it was being used in the first place—drop-offs, pickups, short-term parking, long term parking, etc.—data that an intelligent parking solution can accurately provide. For example, many parking operators are beginning to reimagine their spaces by becoming more of a transit hub that supplies locations for pickups and drop-offs (to accommodate AV) as well as parking.
It will take investments from cities, private parking lot operators and car makers to integrate parking and traffic information to ease congestion, optimize city resources and ease mobility. Yet the power of delivering real-time information creates significant benefits for everyone using city streets.
Fast-Forward to a Smarter City
It’s taken six months to get another reservation at the hottest restaurant in town, but this time the city has helped you prepare. Your car app shows you an accurate map where you see the location of seven open spots within a block away. You arrive in style with time to spare. As you and your better half toast a drink at the bar, you serendipitously meet the celebrity chef, who treats you to his latest kitchen masterpiece.
Life is good with better parking.
By Jason Schulz
Jason Schulz works in Verizon’s Smart Communities organization as a Product Manager overseeing the Parking solution. Before joining Verizon, Jason spent over 20 years in transportation working for Lexus, Toyota and INRIX.