Security and control are two of the biggest challenges that parking lot owners face. Without proper security and monitoring, your parking lot could be vulnerable to threats, ranging from vandalism and property / vehicle damage, to automobile theft, violence, assault and even kidnapping. This is why businesses turn to car park entry systems.

A report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that 10% of crimes occur in parking lots or garages, while as much as 80% of crimes in shopping malls and apartment complexes happen in the parking lot. 

With these frightening figures, companies should take extra steps to ensure the safety of people who use the parking lot to get in and out of the office. This is not an easy feat, but fortunately, you can turn to access control devices, technological hardware, and parking management software. 

Access Control Devices

The access control device is basically how vehicles enter and exit your parking lot, hindering unauthorized vehicles from entering the premises. The most-used method used is a gate or a physical barrier that allows vehicles to stop for manual or automated checking before gaining access to the property. 

A boom barrier, a straight or folding gate pole, is commonly used in public parking lots, since they can go up and down more quickly and can avoid bottlenecks. However, this allows people to pass above or below the barrier, which can lead to more security risks compared to a rolling or vertical gate. 

Whether to use a boom barrier or a full gate would depend highly on the volume of vehicles that access your parking lot daily, and the level of security that you wish to implement. 

When access is controlled manually, parking attendants are stationed at the entry and exit points. They might be tasked with handing out tickets or parking cards, or stopping unauthorized vehicles from entering and clicking a button to open or close the parking gate. 

Though manual control may be a bit more old-school, having security manpower patrolling the area comes with certain advantages too: making it easier for parking lot users to call for help and attention, when needed; having people readily available to address issues such as property damage and disputes on-the-spot; and they can serve as a deterrent for potential wrongdoers.

Technological Hardware

In the more recent years, many parking lot operators have been doing away with manual methods and making use of technological hardware in their parking lot control system. 

Security, useability, return on investments (ROI), accessibility and control features are the major considerations when choosing the right technology for your property. For companies operating several parking locations (or are planning to in the future), technology can help manage your parking lots from one centralized location, making it more efficient and cost-friendly. 

The most common forms of technological hardware used in car park access control systems are: 

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Ticket / card dispensers– these tickets or cards usually come with a timestamp, unique barcode, QR code or magnetic strip to record the time of entry and exit. 

Using a machine to read and collect parking fees at the exit point might prove to be more complicated, so many operators mix this up by having a parking attendant booth at the exit, or asking users to pay at a centralized cashier counter before exiting the premises.

RFID sensors– some companies issue RFID cards, stickers or fobs to authorized users of parking lots, which just need to be scanned for a few quick seconds at the entry and exit point. This is a great contactless and convenient option that requires little training to use. 

However, with the acceleration of technology comes more sophisticated tech crimes, and codes can be easily copied with the click of a few buttons. Other problems that can occur might be employees sharing their key cards with each other or losing their cards, which might open the property to security risks. 

License plate recognition (LPR) camera- this can be used alone or integrated with the entry and exit access to provide quick multi-factor authentication. Tickets or cards can be printed with the license plate and in more advanced systems, specific plate numbers can be attached to the RFID sticker or key cards, to address the problem of passing key cards between users and to catch the unauthorized duplication of RFID codes. 

To maximize the effectiveness of LPR technology make sure to integrate with a parking management software like ParkOffice.io to bring oversight, flexibility and functionality.

Mobile phone-based access system- rapidly becoming the most popular option, this method provides the advantages of contactless method and convenience of the RFID card / fob scanners and addresses potential problems with security is the use of mobile phones to gain access. 

Similar to LPR cameras, the power of this options goes into overdrive when combined with a parking management software.

CCTV cameras– these should be located around key areas in the parking lot and an assigned security personnel must be monitoring the screens 24/7. Rules vary globally, but generally, it is recommended that CCTV camera records must be kept for a minimum period of 31 days

Emergency call stations– in case you want to go fully-automated without a roving human patrolman, consider installing emergency call boxes or buttons around your parking lot. These will be useful in the event of security threats, breakdown of certain hardware or accidents. 

Parking Management Software

Having an effective parking management software is like having a centralized control panel for your car park control system. Software is not the first thing that operators and users see physically, but it actually serves as the binding force between all the moving pieces in parking lot management behind-the-scenes. 

ParkOffice.io, the leading software with everything office parking-related, works in real-time in managing parking permissions, automating allocation, maximizing occupancy, generating data & reports, providing access control and managing violations. 

For company-managed parking lots, employees may be asked to log into the mobile app to check if they have parking permissions for that day, check the real-time status of parking slots and they can also make reservations to use available slots via the app. There is an option to assign only specific hours to a user, to ensure that usage is maximized among employees working in different shifts. 

A parking management software may be used by itself or with the access devices and / or technological hardware. 

If there is a parking attendant, he can check the updated list of permitted vehicles for the day and log violations via the app. Technological hardware can also be integrated with data from the parking management software to ensure the smooth flow of entry, usage and exit. 

The components of your parking lot control system would depend on your budget, parking lot usage, objectives, security risks and the type of parking lot that you have. Keep in mind also that security, safety and control should be top priorities for any property manager.

Building an effective control system is a challenging but fulfilling process, as you explore how all the moving pieces can fit together. 

In most cases, you might find that it is best to mix and match access devices, hardware and software based on your needs.

Before investing in any tool, check with the providers if they can provide a free demo or trial period. Consider if they have professional after-sales service and expertise in the specialized field of parking management too. 

Schedule a free demo with ParkOffice.io now, and let’s discuss how we can help you with your needs. 

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