Sustainability in Parking
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use.
For some time now, the movement toward sustainable business practices has made itself as prominent in the Parking industry as it has in similarly pervasive industries. Unfortunately, many “sustainable” applications are fiscally unsustainable. Sustainability is about much more than green stamp on marketing materials; green investment decisions should have positive and lasting environmental effects without negatively impacting the bottom line. In an industry where margins are already slim, it only makes sense to take a finer-toothed comb to the software and hardware that is utilized on a day-to-day basis.
The only way to continue to advance sustainability in the Parking industry is a grassroots movement toward sensible innovation that makes “going green” an easy decision for the Parking Provider. Innovation that has long-term responsible environmental impacts while proving to be an easy implementation decision for parking providers whose allegiance is in maximizing stakeholder value. “Green” technologies should never come at the expense of parkers.
Sustainable solutions should be cash flow positive from the start.
Far too often, companies choose to implement a “green” technology that proves costly and inefficient with payback periods that extend far beyond the benefits of implementation. We need to rethink sustainability with progress and long-lasting fiscal and environmental benefits at the core.
Making Remote Management…more Remote
We have all had the day where something unexpected came up and we had to work late or stay later than expected. Making it worse was the fact that you drove and as a result, had to pay for additional parking. When you were finally able to leave, you were pleasantly surprised that you didn’t have to pay for parking since the attendant had left for the evening and left the gate up!
Yep, what you just uncovered is at the heart of a major industry problem: providers attempt to reduce overhead costs but negatively impact revenue at the same time. Before you know it, this information about parking being free at certain times is on every social media site, monthly parkers start canceling their contracts, and folks start planning their schedules around when parking is free…
So what can you do about it? Some operators have stopped the bleeding by implementing a stand-alone pay station that either requires a flat amount upon exiting or accepts a ticket to calculate the charge. While this is a step in the right direction, not having an attendant introduces a host of other issues:
- Machine malfunctions
- Unable to exit without proper cash (for the machines that don’t accept payment cards)
- Safety of parkers
Attempting to address this, providers have put in two-way communication with CCTV. A recent article in Parking Today, “Competitors Abound…My Opinion”, highlights that companies are moving in this direction and have seen great results. This solution requires local servers in each location and the solution helps on the margin if you have a few properties to manage along with someone on call to address machine and gate issues.
This helps on the margin if you have one property to manage and someone is on call to address machine and gate issues. But what about the providers that have facilities to manage that are spread across different parts of a city or in completely different States? We believe that having two-way communication from one location and CCTV monitoring is an incomplete remote management solution and does not properly address the full set of industry issues.
True remote management gives the providers full control of an attended lot, except remotely. At a recent technology startup competition we were asked about the parker reception of this concept of Remote Management – the panel suggested that parkers might feel alienated due to “no attendants being on duty.” On the contrary! Attendants are on duty – they are just off site.
This subject area is at the core of PassportParking. We set our sights on creating a platform that gives the operators the ability to provide customer service through two-way communication, video monitoring and operational control of the gates and completion of parking transactions. The next step was solving the issue of requiring the attendants to be in a certain location in order to manage the facilities.
Enter the cloud.
Cloud-based Remote Management architecture means you can monitor and control all of your facilities accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection and web browser. Agents can answer incoming calls, web chats, and respond to device alerts from any mobile device, tablet, or computer. This also means that a global distributed call center structure can be put in place.
Based on our discussions with parking providers, they are ready for this solution but they should also be prepared to have a reaction from parkers. When we proposed our solution at an event, we actually received the following email from a recent graduate from a student at a local university:
“It seems to me as someone who has to park sometimes that having the parking police have more perfect knowledge of who is who is not necessarily an advantage. While a student it was a nice perk that if class work kept one on campus until after 10:30 PM you got free parking because the attendant left. With your system it seems that would not be the case.”
Unfortunately while we are striving in every regard to improve the parking experience for the parker – we have a fiduciary responsibility to the parking providers we serve to ensure that they have a finger on the pulse of their operations. By empowering them with this knowledge, they can reduce overhead without hurting customer service or sacrificing revenue.