Choosing the right smart parking technology can be daunting for real estate professionals. On one level there seems to be a lot of choice between hardware and software. Yet, the cost stacks up fast and it’s hard to figure out what solutions are most suited to the needs of your property.
This guide to smart parking technology gives you the information to make decisions with confidence.
1. What is smart parking technology?
– Parking hardware
– Parking software
– Internet of things
2. Who needs smart parking technology?
3. What are the features of good smart parking technology?
– Booking management
– Availability management
– Allocation management
– Occupancy tracking
– Payment integrations
– Hardware Integrations
– Data & reporting
4. What’s the best smart parking technologies out there?
This article is focused on the needs of real estate professionals. There are lots of conferences and trade magazines out there for car park operators. They focus on turning a quicker and more efficient profit from parking lots.
Yet, there is very little material available to wider real estate community.
“In this article we will dig deeper into what the real estate community needs to know. Read on to discover how smart parking technology can be used in office and residential car parks.”
What is a smart parking technology?
Smart parking technology is any technology which improves the management of parking at your property. Left unchecked car parks can become serious hotbeds for tension. Rogue parking, poor security and occupancy challenges all cause issues.
The response to enhancing the motorist experience is to roll-out parking management in some form. Most motorists will be exposed to a massive amount of parking management solutions during their travels. However, most smart parking technology can be grouped into three key categories.
i) Parking Hardware
Parking hardware evolved as an industry to control who entered and exited car parks. This had been the undisputed number one option for a long time.
“Most drivers experience a hardware parking management solution every time they enter a car park. This refers to any system where you have a parking barrier or gate control the entry and or exit.”
For a long time hardware was viewed as the only way to bring a level of automation and control to car parks. The technology in this area has evolved to meet the needs of commercial car parks. Being a key tool for car parks who were looking to control and monetize their parking spaces.
Due to a lack of alternatives, certain parking hardware has become very common in residential and office car parks.
Built into every piece of parking hardware will be an access system. In commercial car parks this is generally a parking ticket. In offices and residential environments this might be a keycard system, a fob or a keycode.
Pros: Parking barriers and gates make it harder for rogue parkers to get into your car park. The best parking hardware is really powerful.
Most modern systems are WiFi enabled. This means that they can feedback information to central offices on barriers usage. While the best machines can open and close in a matter of seconds.
Cons: Parking hardware is very, very expensive.
“A reliable car park barrier or gate can cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. You then face regular maintenance fees which are often compulsory and stack up fast.”
Many professionals in residential or office settings lament the cost of replacing access keycards and fobs. Controlling usage of access systems like the fobs can be a nightmare. Employees and residents pass them around making it hard to police your internal parking.
Finally, most companies never actually realize the value of their investment. There is no point of spending top dollar on a top of the range barrier if you are not planning to use all its powers. To realize value look to sync up with a leading parking management software. As we’ll explore this will open massive possibilites around automation and optimization.
ii) Parking Software
Parking management software is a relatively new field. It is coming on leaps and bounds over the last few years. Particularly in relation to the needs of offices and residential developments.
As real estate professionals know, controlling who can enter and exit your car park is only the tip of the iceberg. The real battle is controlling what is happening inside the car park. Allocating spaces, monitoring occupancy and managing violations are all daily issues.
For many facilities managers this has become a massive drain on resource. They are trying to track which employees or tenants are coming and going, who is due to parked where and then when things go wrong they are left chasing their tails. Nothing is worse than crawling through Excel sheets trying to figure out who the rogue parker is.
“The good news is that parking management software is making great strides. Automating and optimizing parking management for office and residential parking lots is now as a few clicks away.”
Pros: Parking software is much cheaper than hardware. Most parking management softwares are available on a monthly subscriptions basis. This makes it easier to switch if you are not getting the results you need.
Parking management software is incredibly powerful. The best softwares on the market can automate all aspects of parking allocation, administration, violation management. This is the easiest category to calculate return on investment for real estate managers. They can calculate reduction in manual management, increase in parking occupancy etc. in the click of a button.
Parking management software works well as a standalone product for the SME businesses. You can increase parking efficiency and depoliticise parking in offices without buying in expensive hardwares.
Cons: The impact of parking management software as a standalone product can be limited particularly for bigger car parks. When integrated the possibilities become endless.
iii) Internet of Things
This is the new holy grail of smart parking technology particularly for larger enterprise customers. Basically this is like the best of both worlds between hardware and software.
“Using internet of things technology leading software providers can now sync in with parking hardwares. This opens up a world of opportunities for real estate professionals. You can now introduce total automation and optimization into your car parks.”
Internet of things solutions allows real estate professionals to create fluid access systems. You can give both fixed and temporary access to motorists. Drivers with parking priviledges are allowed to access car parks with digital parking passes.
These passes are automatically generated and distributed based on parking allocation which is done by an algorithm. The algorithm will look at the parking requests from tenants and employees and stack up who needs parking. Allocation is based on pre-determined criteria including seniority, length of tenure, guest status etc.
In short this is a full parking loop which optimizes all aspects of parking to perfection.
The emergence of other forms of parking hardware such as sensors and camera visioning also open up exciting new opportunities. Real estate professionals can now link in with software to help direct motorists more effectively once they enter the car park.
Pros: This brings maximum results around efficiency and optimization. It also massively reduces the need for human input. In essence the car parks run themselves.
For real estate professionals with older gates and barriers, add-ons are available cheaply which can unlock IoT possibilities in your car park.
Cons: If you do not have a barrier or gate on-site it can be quite expensive to install one.
Who needs a smart parking technology?
In short, any real estate professional who has parking problems, will benefit from a smart parking technology. The big question is what type of system you need.
As a rule of thumb, it all depends on size and frequency of parking. A small residential development with 10 apartments and 8 parking spaces will benefit from a parking software automation solution.
Yet, if you have an office or residential parking garage with anything more than a handful of parking spots a parking management solution will help. At this stage it really depends on what your problem is.
If you are having massive problems with rogue parkers using your car park you should look at hardware. Exhaust other options first though around parking enforcement.
“If you don’t have enough parking spaces, if managing parking is taking too much time or if parking is causing office tension you need parking management software.”
If you are a bigger development with a myriad of parking problems you probably need an IoT solution to automate and optimize all aspects of parking management.
What are the features of a good smart parking technology?
When you are choosing the right smart parking technology, there are a couple of things to look out for.
When it comes to choosing parking hardware, it’s simple enough. How quickly do you need the barrier to open and close? Answering this question will go a long way to deciding what system you need. Pay attention to the connectivity of the system, particularly if you want to unlock an optimized IoT experience.
Parking software is a little more nuanced. The possibilities with a good parking management software are endless. So choosing a software to suit you needs is very important. It’s worth investigating the following key features:
A basic enough feature which most parking software solutions will provide is booking management. This allows staff to indicate when they need parking.
Different apps structure in different ways, some offering a prioritization system which factors in seniority, mobility issues etc. Others operate a token based system where people get a certain number of credits per month.
The best parking management software will monitor and forecast parking availability for motorists. This means that the software figures out who needs parking and when.
It then can communicate with employees around whether there is due to be space. Think about it like hot-desking but for parking spaces.
Figuring out who should get a space and on what days can be a political minefield. Particularly if you are doing this on a regular basis.
Allocation management features will automate this for you. Allow spaces to be allocated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the usage needs of your employees or residents.
A massive reason people drive to work is uncertainity. They think there is the off-chance of a parking space so they take a chance. Cutting edge software will allow staff to see before they depart whether there is parking available or not. This means they can take alternative transport if necessary.
Residential parking charges is a long established revenue stream for property managers. While many companies are starting to introduce parking charges to limit the amount of people driving to work. Ensuring this can be done seamlessly through your software is something you might want to consider.
Integrating through APIs is second nature for some softwares but for others it’s a little too technically complex. Make sure you scope out your requirements here as you look to progress.
Data & Reporting
The success of any investments lies in the numbers. Make sure you know what metrics you need to be able to demonstrate ROI to your colleagues. Choose a software which gives you this functionality.
Other key considerations include how violations are managed? Can the software work across multiple locations? The latter is particularly important for companies and property managers with broad portfolios. Of course, on top of all this is the
What are the best smart parking technologies out there?
Picking a parking gate or barrier is often a case of price, the leading manufacturers include Skidata, Designa and Zeag. These barriers are often sold domestically through agents. It’s best to engage a broad range of potential hardware providers to get an idea of the value in your market.
Please keep a careful eye out for maintenance charges. What might on the surface seem to be the cheapest option could end up being much more expensive in the long-run. So make sure to calculate costs over the full warrantied life cycle.
When it comes to delivering cutting edge parking management software and IoT experiences, independent software reviewer Capterra shows there are two clear category leaders. Disclaimer alert, I happen to work for one of them.
My company, ParkOffice is number 1 in the commercial real estate space. Since launching our product a few years ago, we’ve attracted Fortune 500 clients like CBRE & Sanofi. Clients rave about our ability to optimize and manage all aspects of office parking.
“Customers particularly love the adaptability of our product which is delivering increases in parking efficiency of up to 40% for SMEs as well as leading enterprises.”
ParkingBoss is number 1 in the residential spaces, their software allows companies to record, track and verify residential vehicles. It’s trusted by Greystar, Lincoln Property Company & Associa among other leading landlords.
In short when weighing up the options for a smart parking technology, make sure to do your homework. Figuring out what system you need as opposed to what system your competitors use is key. This will ensure you implement a smart parking solution which is fit for purpose and allows parking to become an after-thought for your tenants and employees.
Parking causing issues? Join industry leaders from companies like CEPSA, Indeed.com & CBRE, schedule a demo with ParkOffice.io today and solve your parking problems in the click of a button.