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Smart Parking: saving time, reducing emissions and increasing ROI

Our AI-enabled parking solution can help boost revenues while providing property managers and owners a host of other benefits.

Underground parking

Crowded parking lots cause a lot of problems. Driver frustration, of course, but also wasted time, higher emissions, more accidents and lost revenues. In a previous blog post, we noted that parking problems in municipalities can cause a number of other issues, and even cost local businesses money when people spend time parking instead of shopping. 

But this isn’t just a problem for city governments. A property manager or building owner with a parking lot faces many of the same problems, especially if they have multiple lots or a parking garage with multiple levels. In Canada, this typically means either office complexes – whether a downtown tower or a business park – and shopping malls. Both face the same problem – as David Parker, COO of Cleverciti, noted in our last post, “parking has been largely the same for 100 years. You go and find a space on your own, and the owner of that real estate has no idea if anyone’s there, they don't know when a vehicle arrived or when it left. They don't even know if they paid unless they send someone to go check.”

The Smart Parking solution from Rogers and Cleverciti solves this problem. Connected sensors use edge-computing Artificial Intelligence (AI) with millions of knowledge vectors defining occupied and available parking spaces. This enables an accurate understanding of the real-time occupancy status of every parking spot. Drivers are then guided to available spaces through a phone app or by digital signs. Making it easier to find parking also helps ensure that parking spaces are fully utilized, and makes the use of each space more efficient. This can have an obvious positive impact on the ROI of parking assets. 

A better parking experience can lead to happier & more productive employees

In helping to solve parking challenges, the benefits of Smart Parking for private businesses go well beyond the financials. Let’s turn to office complexes first, and explore what this means for managers, owners and employees.

First, thanks to Covid-19 many offices have adopted a hybrid work model, with employees working from home for at least part of the week. This means that the facility’s parking needs may be less than they were before the pandemic. This opens up the question of what to do with unused spaces. According to Parker, some of Cleverciti’s customers have opened up unused spaces to the public. “To do that properly, you have to know how full your lot or garage is and be able to guide people into an available space,” says Parker. “The great thing is that this creates an extended network of parking for the community beyond just the assets that the city owns, and allows property managers and owners to take advantage of their existing assets.”

Second, solving parking search saves drivers time as they no longer have to hunt for an available space. In a commercial building, the focus “should be on optimizing the productivity of your employees or the employees that work in your tenant companies,” says Parker. “To do that, you want to minimize their wasted time, and make it super easy to get in and out. You don’t want them to end up circling around looking for a free spot.” Smart Parking can show employees where the free spaces are, and can guide them to a specific space to help save time on their way in to work. 

“Parking is something people do every single day when they drive to work. It's the very first thing they do, so if that very first thing they do is easy, pleasurable and an outstanding experience that nobody else has, then that can actually yield a significant improvement in your employer brand or your employee retention.”

- David Parker, COO of Cleverciti

Saving time not only helps productivity, but can also make for happier employees. Employers want to create great working environments for their teams and differentiate themselves by having great benefits or great experiences. “It may seem small,” says Parker, “but parking is something people do every single day when they drive to work. It's the very first thing they do, so if that very first thing they do is easy, pleasurable and an outstanding experience that nobody else has, then that can actually yield a significant improvement in your employer brand or your employee retention.” 

Third, looking to the future as it becomes ever more vital for companies to monitor and report on their environmental impact, having the ability to monitor how many car trips employees take during the day could become important. Smart Parking can help do this, without sacrificing the privacy of your employees. Rather than monitoring specific vehicles, the solution counts the number of parking events as employees come and go for lunch or meetings. This can be translated into a carbon footprint per vehicle trip.

Making it easy to get to in-person shopping 

Let’s turn our attention to shopping malls.  

Malls have had their own challenges thanks to Covid-19, when people became even more accustomed to online shopping. The question now is how to bring them back to shopping in person. “People go through this calculus in their mind,” says Parker, “Thinking that it's probably more efficient for me to browse the store, where I might discover things I wouldn't otherwise find if I shopped online, but it can take extra time. So do I invest that extra time in my day on the shopping experience, or do I just go online and click a button.” 

Shopping malls can set themselves up to compete by making it as easy as possible to get to the stores and eliminate any extra time spent parking. By making parking search easy, and helping to eliminate traffic jams that can occur during peak periods, Smart Parking helps people get to their shopping faster. 

This is of obvious benefit to a mall, since more time in the mall tends to mean more money spent. Most malls have some idea of how much the average visitor spends per minute. Making parking easier provides those visitors with a better experience, ensuring they are in a good mood upon arrival. But it also means they will be in the mall for longer so their spending will tend to increase. This is good news for both mall tenants and mall owners. 

Benefits beyond ROI

Whether an office or a shopping mall, the Smart Parking solution brings numerous additional benefits. 

As a cloud-based software platform, the solution can be integrated with other software platforms in a “smart building” environment. This can include something as simple as pushing the parking occupancy data to some other system. It can also include integration with a wider digital signage system so that special events or notifications can be pushed to drivers as they enter the parking area. 

It is also possible to integrate parking into a unified security system. “You might think, how is parking relevant to security?” asks Parker. “We can trigger alerts when things happen that shouldn't. For example, if employees aren't supposed to park overnight, when there's a car that's been there overnight, we can trigger an alert. If there is a drop-off zone or visitor parking with shorter time limits, when those limits are exceeded, we can also trigger an alert. All of these alerts can be fed into a master security console to ensure a safe environment for the business and its team members.”

Finally, businesses today are being asked to focus more and more on their environmental impact. “Cars driving in circles are not good for the environmental,” says Parker, “So anything you can do to reduce that helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the business. It also helps to reduce point emissions, so in addition to a reduction in the total carbon footprint, you can also help reduce the pollution in that particular location. This can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of your shoppers and employees.” 

To sum it up, Parker says, Cleverciti focuses on reducing vehicle minutes travelled in finding parking. That’s because – whether it’s ROI, employee productivity, giving people more time to shop or reducing your environmental footprint – “we realized that it all boils down at the end of the day to time spent in cars, and if we can reduce that time, all the other benefits follow.”

To learn how smart parking technology can make your business more sustainable while helping boost revenues, contact a Rogers for Business representative.

This post is part of a series on transforming cities with smart technology. Check out the related posts here.