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The Future of Parking

To some degree, the basic challenges of the transportation industry remain unchanged. People need to get where they want to go, with as few roadblocks – literal or otherwise – as possible. Yet emerging technologies and the powerful potential of digital interactions are also changing transportation as we know it, sometimes seemingly overnight.

Parking is a great example of this. The basic challenges are still there. People want convenient places to park their cars; cities want to manage their available parking spaces effectively. But parking is also evolving rapidly. The availability of massive quantities of data make it possible to transform the narrow view of parking as a meter enforcement exercise into a dynamic, responsive ecosystem. The result? Improving customer experience while simultaneously enabling cities to manage congestion and lessen their environmental impact.

Here are three ways the parking and mobility industry is embracing the future with new solutions and approaches.

  1. Taking an active, dynamic role in managing supply and demand.

Forward-thinking parking programs don’t even think just in terms of “parking” anymore. “Curbside management” or “parking and mobility” are more accurate descriptions of the agency’s goals. While setting meter rates and scheduling ticket-writers were once locked into specific patterns, new technology and new priorities have changed the game.

Drivers who circle over and over while struggling to find an open parking space aren’t just having a bad day; they’re also contributing to congestion, pollution, and lost economic input for their city. Yet oversupply isn’t the answer.

Cities are now using price as a powerful tool to impact supply and demand. In cities like Los Angeles, on-street meter rates can be increased and decreased dynamically, lowering rates in specific areas to encourage more drivers to park in those areas. By adjusting rates, the program redistributes where people are parking, moving toward an optimal parking distribution. In the Los Angeles example, the city was able to increase revenue and decrease congestion even though they lowered rates in more areas than they raised them.

  1. Adopting powerful new tools and a data-driven approach.

For years, parking programs have been collecting huge amounts of data on driver behavior; now they’re starting to put that data to use. In Washington, DC, a proponent of “performance parking”, rates are changed every three months to work toward optimal occupancy levels.

In other cities, Conduent’s enforcement software helps make ticket writers more effective by optimizing their routes to put them in the right place at the right time. Without this kind of automation, if a program has 20 ticket writers scheduled to work 20 beats and two ticket writers don’t show up, two beats oftentimes simply go unenforced. Our software effortlessly redistributes the amount of work, deploying available personnel to cover areas for the best productivity and enforcement consistent with public policy regulations.  

  1. Transforming residential parking permit programs with digital potential.

Meters aren’t the only area where parking programs are recognizing new possibilities. Five years ago, most cities issued stickers or hangtags to residents that entitled them to park in certain places at certain time. Now, in many cities, the entire program has gone online.

Residents can apply online or through a smartphone, and enforcement doesn’t rely on stickers or permits. Instead, enforcement is a simple matter of scanning a car’s license plate to validate parking rights managed from an integrated permit database. In addition to making enforcement more efficient, our software eliminates the widespread fraud and abuse associated with paper permits or stickers.

And those aren’t the only benefits. Fulfillment and request processing are dramatically simplified, removing the need to maintain stock, print and mail stickers, or manage requests or complaints when physical documents were lost or delayed in the mail. Residents can get a guest permit immediately. The availability of data also enables integration, making it possible to require individuals to pay outstanding tickets before obtaining or renewing a permit.

These are just a few of the exciting ways we’re working with parking programs across the country to realize the benefits of a data-driven approach. Some of the challenges facing local governments have changed and some haven’t.  Innovation and data utilization are creating exciting new opportunities for cities to use parking management to reduce congestion while improving public safety and overall quality of life.