Sustainable Parking Technology

Innovation
May 31st, 2013 | By Nicole Rogers

Have you received a parking ticket lately? Or maybe you’ve watched your gas dial drop as you hunt for a parking spot? Luckily, it looks like the days of cruising the streets for an empty parking spot may be coming to an end in the near future, which means less frustration and less gas wasted.

The International Parking Institute (IPI), the largest association of parking professionals and the parking industry, held their annual conference recently, and NPR reporter Kenny Malone was there to interview some parking professionals about how the business is changing.

According to his report, in the past, the goal of for-profit parking has been to pack cars in, maximizing cars in spots to maximize revenue. Customer experience wasn’t a priority, and plenty of gas and patience was expended searching for a parking spot. Today, Xerox is working on something they call Occupancy Retention. The technology can help the customer find his lost car, direct him to an open parking spot, and pay for that spot on his smart phone. Instead of associating a parking lot with parking tickets and frantic searching for a spot, Xerox has developed technology that hopes to make the customer experience with that parking lot more rewarding.

One parking professional in Malone’s piece may have summed it up best by saying, “Success in this industry is when your customers don’t even notice you at all.” A seamless parking experience? Yes please.

San Francisco’ s SFpark pilot program, which began in 2010, is a good example of new technology and city planning working together to solve a popular city’s parking and traffic issues. Special parking meters and sensors allow drivers to see online or on their smartphones where parking is available. Parking rates in each area fluctuate based on demand until one space is available most of the time. Here’s more about it:

All of this convenience is great, but one of the most significant benefits could be gasoline savings through increased fuel economy.

According to the organization Parking Reform’s math, if the average car gets 20 miles per gallon, 100 cars cruising for 3 minutes each looking for spaces would waste 9,125 gallons of gas! If new technology could eliminate the phenomenon of searching for a parking spot, imagine how much gasoline we could save nationwide.

The parking industry is changing rapidly, and sustainability is one of the industry’s primary goals, according to the IPI’s 2013 Emerging Trends in Parking survey. In addition to smart parking that directs drivers in real time to available spots and smartphone payment options, parking facilities have started to encourage alternative transportation by offering bike parking and car/bike sharing, and providing charging stations to electric cars. In fact, the IPI is a founding Ambassador in the U.S. Department of Energy Workplace Charging Challenge, a new initiative of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which “focuses on the U.S. becoming the first nation in the world to produce plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable for the average American family as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years.”

Sustainable America supports fuel efficiency and promotes the use of plug-in electric vehicles, so we love it when relatively simple technology can help businesses profit, make life simpler for the consumer, and promote fuel efficiency. We’ll keep watching the progress of smart parking solutions, and in the coming years we’ll be investing in a host of businesses and technologies that aim to improve efficiency.

Tagged: electric cars, fuel efficiency cars, fuel efficiency, building efficiency, fuel, electric vehicles, plug-in electric vehicle, fuel efficient parking, smart parking, PEVs, PEV public charging stations, Science & Tech, Innovation

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