- Donal O'Hagan
The parking industry is changing. It’s catching up fast on other industry sectors in terms of its use of information technology. Traditionally, at the big parking expos, all the parking equipment manufacturers take centre stage, showing off their latest designs and colour schemes. However, software and its importance to parking solutions is taking a more prominent role in everyday parking activities.
What was obvious in Chicago, at the at the recent annual Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) (March 6th – 8th, 2017), is that software companies are playing a much bigger role in the future capital expenditure plans of car park owners and operators. Indeed, much of the discussion on the stands of the ‘traditional’ equipment manufacturers was of interfaces with booking engines, licence plate recognition systems, Bluetooth devices and ‘Big-Data’.
Why, you ask, is this change happening?
In short, it’s because cars, their owners and the places they want to park, are now finding each other through web search engines, data aggregators, or pre-payment and pre-booking apps. Just driving to the general area in which you want to find a parking space and hoping you find one, is not how it’s done for the huge number of drivers who use smartphones, or whose car is connected to the internet. They call up the area in which they want to park via their in-car displays and click on the location which is the best value or most convenient, then click through to book and pay for parking. On arrival at the car park entry, they gain access without having to take a ticket and leave without having to wait in line at payment stations to pay with cash.
The ‘connected’ driver of today wants to look forward to what they are going to do at journey’s end, rather than worry about where they are going to park. As Alex Israel, COO of Inrix.com, said during his PIE presentation on Parking Apps & Connected Cars, “If you’re not on Google, your car park doesn’t exist to the millennial driver!”.
Another interesting fact delivered at PIE is that 50% of new cars sold in 2017 will be 'connected' cars and that by 2025 it will be 100%. Will these connected drivers and cars be able to find your car park?