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The future of parking

High-tech, green features

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Innovative technology and sustainability are in high demand for the parking industry, as seen in an industry-wide survey, according to Building Design & Construction:

More than one-third of those surveyed see the demand for green or sustainable solutions as a top trend affecting the parking profession. It is estimated that about 30% of the cars circling a city at any given time are doing so as drivers look for parking. Aside from the frustration factor, those cars are creating traffic congestion, viewed by survey respondents as being the single most significant societal change affecting the parking industry. From an environmental standpoint, that translates to incalculable amounts of wasted fuel and carbon emissions.

According to respondents, the number one strategy for making parking more sustainable is energy-efficient lighting, followed by parking space guidance systems that aid in finding parking faster, encouraging alternative travel, automated payment processes, solar panels, renewable energy technology, and accommodating electric vehicles.

An increased focus on customer service is another significant trend cited.

“Parking professionals are continually striving to make the parking experience better,” says IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE. He explains that the parking industry has expanded to serve cyclists, those who car-share, those en route to shuttle buses or light rail, and even pedestrians who benefit from parking facilities that serve as mobility connectors.

A chief problem seen by survey respondents is one those in the parking profession are working hard to correct: decision makers need to consult parking experts earlier in the planning process to prevent a myriad of design issues and other problems later on. When surveyed about the most common avoidable mistakes, respondents cited such issues as “lack of vision to invest in mass transit systems to handle large movements of people,” “inefficient layout and poor aesthetics,” “failure to think about parking in the planning stages,” and “overlooking important issues such as water and power sources, snow removal, entry/exit functionality, and how and by whom the facility will be used.”

Survey results showed a dead heat between urban planners, local government officials, and architects as those who most need to better understand parking and all its complexities.

When asked where parking would best fit as a course of study at an academic institution, nearly half of respondents suggested that parking should become part of the curriculum at schools for urban planners. Runners-up were schools where business and public policy is taught.

The 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Survey was conducted in May 2012 among parking professionals by the International Parking Institute (IPI) and released at IPI’s Conference & Expo. Results were tabulated and analyzed by the Washington, D.C.-based Market Research Bureau. A complete report is available at www.parking.org

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