On a recent trip to the airport to retrieve my daughter, I found myself in need of short term parking. As I entered the parking garage, I took my ticket from the parking ticket issuing machine and pulled forward, expecting to search for a parking space. Instead, I was greeted by rows with clearly marked signs stating whether there was available parking and parking spots lit with red or green LED lights to indicate whether a spot was open. I quickly located an open spot, parked, and saved twenty minutes of slowly cruising the aisles looking for an empty spot.
The airport’s parking garage uses one type of what is broadly known as an intelligent or smart car parking system.
What is an intelligent car parking system?
An intelligent car parking system is a system which uses technology to determine parking space occupancy and subsequently create a real-time parking map. This parking map can be used to do the following:
- to communicate in real time with drivers and help them park efficiently,
- to give information to officials about parking violations,
- and to let people know when an area is too congested for parking so that they can make alternate transportation plans.
The technology behind this automated parking system involves some combination of parking equipment: a parking vending machine, ground-embedded sensors, mounted cameras, signs, and/or LED lights. Image detection software and sensors allow for the creation of a real-time parking map. In some systems, these sensors allow drivers to see red or green lights, indicating whether a space is occupied or free. In other automated parking systems, the sensors communicate the collected data to a centralised location, aggregate it with other data, and create a real-time parking availability map that is then accessible via smartphone.
This type of automated parking system is increasingly used by smart cities, which are cities that use a combination of communication technology and information technology to enhance lives. The various parking equipment that makes smart parking systems possible are a part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
What are the benefits of an intelligent car parking system?
Drivers, businesses, and entire cities benefit from smart parking systems.
- Intelligent pay to park machines lead to optimised parking. They allow drivers to get to the best spot quickly without driving around, wasting petrol and time. This efficient use of time and space saves money. It also makes the parking garage user’s experience better. In addition to the other benefits, many automated parking systems will also alert drivers when their parking time is about to expire.
- Another benefit for drivers is that payments do not need to be made in cash. Since these parking systems are IoT systems, drivers can be invoiced for parking and pay directly from their phones, reducing time spent and increasing accurate record keeping.
- A smart paid parking system increases revenue potential for lot owners because they can create tiered payment plans based on spot location and length of parking stay. These IoT systems also make it easy to create, offer, and track reward programs, which will keep customers coming back.
- Whether your business is the parking lot or whether you own the parking lot that services your business, the customers’ parking experiences can make all the difference when they think about your company, venue, or office. A smooth, seamless experience increases the likelihood that they will return.
- By eliminating aimless driving in search of a parking space, a smart paid parking system reduces the amount of vehicle emissions in cities and is therefore beneficial to the environment and the quality of life for residents.
Benefits for All Three
- Traffic flows more smoothly as cars are directed to the nearest open spaces, eliminating traffic congestion and customer frustration.
- The systems result in increased safety. Fewer accidents happen because fewer people are driving around distracted by their search for a parking space. Also, license plate recognition cameras can gather important data and communicate it to security guards or other parking officials.
- Real-time data offers insight into parking trends that can help lot owners and cities make adjustments to improve the flow of parking. This not only benefits lot owners and cities but also drivers.
- More efficient parking leads to decreased labour, which leads to decreased costs. Lower costs translate into lower prices.
What criteria should you use to choose a parking vending or parking ticket issuing machine?
Whether you are looking for a parking ticket validation machine, a parking vending machine, a parking ticket issuing machine, or pay to park machines, you should not only consider the offerings of different parking pay stations manufacturers, you should also consider the following questions:
- What payment types does the machine accept? – The more types of payments – credit card, debit card, cash, etc. – that the machine accepts, the more flexible you can be with its use. Also, machines that accept many forms of payment reduce your need for ticket taker employees.
- Does the machine verify payment immediately? – Machines that verify credit and debit card validity or check for counterfeit cash can save you much lost revenue.
- Does the machine record license plate numbers? – This security feature will help to prevent drivers from sharing their tickets with other cars, safeguarding against money loss and potentially dangerous individuals. A parking ticket validation machine can often provide this feature.
- What other security features does the machine have? – It is important, especially for machines that accept cash, to be sure that they are not easily stolen. It is also important the machine records the time of entry and exit. Also, you should check to see if the machine has camera features that allow you to capture images of drivers and/or license plates for security reasons.
- Does the machine communicate in multiple languages? – In an increasingly global world, the chances that diverse people speaking varied languages will use your parking system. You want to make the experience positive for all of your customers.
- Finally, does your machine have a power back-up source? – When the power goes out, you can potentially lose substantial amounts of money and the good will of customers. Having a back-up power source can prevent these issues.
There are many reasons to invest in a smart parking system. As businesses and cities shift to these intelligent parking systems, they should consider the many benefits. As they compare different parking pay stations manufacturers, they should also ask themselves which products will most benefit them and the drivers using the services.