Whether you are operating an office, a commercial parking facility, like in a mall or airport; a parking lot for a residential community or office; or a mixed-use parking space – a parking barrier gate helps you control access and keep your property and users secure.
There are different forms of barrier gates and nowadays, and many of them can be fully automated when integrated with technology and software:
- Boom barriers– also called barrier arms, they can be a straight or folding pole that blocks the entrance or exit horizontally.
- Vertical lift gates– they roll vertically up and down over the parking lot or car garage entrance / exit points.
- Bi-folding gates, cantilever gates, swing gates, slide gates– most commonly used in residential compounds or private gated communities.
Apart from the form, you should also determine the differences in speed, durability, ease of use, and safety, when choosing your barrier gate provider.
As a parking lot manager, your security gate should match your needs in the following areas:
Frequency of use
How many vehicles are expected to go in and out of the premises daily, weekly and monthly? In a commercial or high-traffic setting, your barrier must be able to go up and down at least 100 times per day without a hitch. However, in lower usage areas maybe you can go for a lower spec model.
You want to keep the traffic flowing smoothly, so you don’t want a barrier gate that operates too slowly and leads to lines of vehicles waiting to enter and exit, especially during peak hours.
Access control and security
Security does not come just from the physical parking barrier gate, but the overall system that comes with it. A future-proof parking access security system usually has two components: the gate and the access control reader.
With the use of technology, access and security controls can be fully automated.
Some of the available vehicle access control technology are:
Key card and fob parking lot system
Sensors are placed on the entry and exit points to quickly read key cards- these can be Wiegrand key cards, swipe key cards or RFID cards, fobs or stickers.
This is a great contactless option, but there are security risks when users lose their cards or fobs, or pass them on to friends or family members. Sophisticated tech criminals can also easily copy the key card credentials and gain unauthorized access.
Card or ticket dispenser / reader
Many public and paid parking facilities have replaced parking attendants who would manually write down vehicle time-in and hand out tickets or cards with machines that can do the work with more speed and accuracy.
The ticket or card usually comes with a unique barcode, QR code, or magnetic strip to record the time of entry and exit of the vehicle.
Automated payment machines may also be placed near the exit, where people can pay using cash or credit / debit cards.
PIN code reader
This requires users to enter a PIN code into a reader prior to entry or exit from the premises. Though it is convenient since you do not have to handle issues related to lost cards- security risk is still high, since people can easily share their passcode with others.
Mobile phone-based parking access system
Rapidly becoming the most popular option. Simply put, the user’s smartphone replaces key cards or fobs to gain access to the parking lot.
A sensor recognizes a registered mobile phone’s credentials when it is waved in front of the scanner, and opens the security gate for the vehicle.
This option is considered more secure compared to key cards, as people usually keep their mobile phones close to them at all times, and codes / credentials can be updated more regularly to minimize the risk of unauthorized replication.
This works best when run through a parking management software like ParkOffice.io which can control access credentials in a flexible and real-time manner.
License plate recognition (LPR) cameras
LPR cameras can complement parking operations where access is given to specific vehicles only, such as in an office or residential parking. It also works well in a reserved parking system, wherein users reserve their slot online and the license plate of the vehicle is entered in the parking lot database, for access on the reserved date.
Once the system recognizes a vehicle’s license plate, access is given automatically.
Commercial parking lots and other non-reservation parking operations can also use this tool as part of their multi-factor authentication process, and this can provide a record of all vehicles which accessed the premises during a certain time period.
Similar to phone based access this works best when fuelled by a parking management software.
Integration with parking management software
Software is the brains behind your smooth parking operations. So while having the right parking barrier gate and access control devices are important, they will not be able to provide their full value if they cannot work in harmony with your parking management software.
The kind of parking management software you use depends on the type of your parking lot operations- It is a public parking lot? Is it an office / employee parking space? Do you only allow permitted vehicles? Are you collecting payment for the use of slots?
Let’s use the example of a company parking lot for employees- your parking management software such as ParkOffice.io can help you set your parking usage guidelines such as the employees that will be allowed to park on particular days and on particular time slots, the slots that are reserved and the one that are for first-come, first-serve, the list of permitted users based on priority, the list of banned users, etc.
Real-time developments might be happening daily too, since the mobile app helps companies maximize the use of parking spaces, there’s an option to allocate unoccupied parking slots to other employees, in case the usual user didn’t report to work.
So how well can your parking barrier gate and access control system integrate with all these?
In the example above, the license plate recognition camera system should be able to get the inputs from the parking management software and this translates to allowing entry only to the permitted vehicles for that day.
The key card or fob parking lot system, or the mobile phone-based parking access system, should be able to recognize the unique user and allow / disallow entry based on data from the software.
If you are operating a paid parking lot, then you need to ensure that your parking barrier gate and access controls can help you manage the collection of the correct payment due from the user before they exit, whether that’s flat rate, hourly or whole-day rate, peak hours rate, overnight rate, etc.
A parking barrier gate can help deter illegal entry and unauthorized usage of your parking lot. However, managing access to your property is more complex than it initially appears. Ideally, you want to automate these access controls to take the guesswork and human error out of the equation.
Fortunately, with the advancement of technology, there are tools and softwares that can help you operate your parking facility efficiently, smoothly and more securely.
Take time to study each option and remember to work with providers that continue to look for ways to integrate technology with their services, and you will be on your way to building a future-proof parking management system.
ParkOffice.io is your partner in solving your office parking problems now and for the long term.
Find out why it is the trusted parking management software of industry leaders from companies like Sanofi, Indeed.com & CBRE- schedule a demo today!