The world population is increasing, and more people choose urban or suburban lifestyles. This usually includes ownership of one or more cars. With larger cities and more vehicles per capita, it can be increasingly difficult to find adequate space to park all those vehicles. Large parking lots or high-rise parking garages are the solution for downtown areas and many suburbs.
However, this solution poses additional questions that must be addressed. For users, it’s important to have easy-in/easy-out convenience and simple payment arrangements. For the site operator, pretty much the same attributes of the system are desirable. Basically, the owner or operator wants happy customers since parkers’ ability to enter and leave without hassles can increase revenues. They also want to minimize labor and other operating costs.
In addition to all the above, avoiding congestion caused by a parking site is important for traffic control authorities and passing motorists. A facility that holds several hundred vehicles could cause significant delays and long lines of cars waiting to enter if each has to stop and wait for manual processing before entering.
At the same time, everyone wants to feel safe and that their car is well-guarded when using the facility, so it is essential to prevent access by criminal elements.
This article will consider the ingredients of a smart parking solution that accomplishes these objectives. Most such systems have ANPR cameras at one or several locations on the site. We’ll explain how the systems work, why every parking facility should consider employing such a system, and the role of Adaptive Recognition, a leader in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology and a key player in automated parking facility support plays.
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What Makes a “Smart” Parking Solution?
Parking a car should be a simple matter, right? For operators and users of large parking facilities, not so much.
The operator usually has several different users to accommodate:
- Casual parkers who use the site once or occasionally, simply paying for each visit when they leave
- Contract parkers who pay a periodic fee to use the lot or garage at their convenience
- Parkers who own or lease a living or office space with parking privileges included in their arrangement
- Guests in a hotel or sports venue whose entry fee includes parking or, at least, a guaranteed space at facilities that often exist only for serving these guests
Parking Facilities Operating as a Stand-Alone Business
The facility operator must recognize each vehicle that enters and treat it according to the user class it belongs to. Space must also be reserved for contract users who should never be denied access, even when the lot is “full.” ANPR cameras facilitate this function in a smart parking solution.
When a car comes into view of the ANPR camera, the camera reads the license plate and compares the data to connected databases. Then the following happens:
- If it belongs to a contract user, it opens a gate, and the parker enters with no further ado
- If it matches a list of stolen or crime-related vehicles, the vehicle is denied entry, and the system reports to the appropriate authority.
- If the driver is an occasional parker with no prearranged relationship, the system stores the plate number until the vehicle leaves, then calculates the charge that the driver can pay with a credit card or cash
Those who park in the garage should be able to enter without stopping and proceed to an available parking space. For contract users, it’s convenient in large facilities to have a separate entrance so that, if the entry for casual users is backed up, the contract parker can enter without delay.
The operator of a parking facility that operates as a parking business naturally wants to:
- Maximize revenue
- Minimize cost
- Provide convenient service to users
With labor in short supply and expensive, operators must minimize the employment of humans in the management of their business. Additionally, human agents are slower and less accurate than an ANPR camera. In other words, the implementation of ANPR technology can reduce costs, increase incomes, and accelerate the entry/exit process at the gates.
Before ANPR became widespread, some facilities used electronic cards or RFID-coded stickers to identify contract parkers. Although this method has many pros compared to more traditional systems, they don’t help casual users who must take a time-stamped ticket and have it taken on exit. An ANPR camera can accurately identify every vehicle, whether or not it’s a known user, and the camera’s ability to identify stolen vehicles is a huge bonus.
Parking Facilities Operated as a Service to Other Businesses
Many hotels, sports venues, malls, and other businesses that accommodate many people arriving by car operate parking facilities as a service to their customers. In these cases, the garage may or may not generate revenue, but it benefits their core business.
Many of these operators’ concerns are similar to garage operators who operate on a stand-alone basis. Like any service offered, it should function efficiently, which means minimal staffing and smooth entry/exit for the users. Additionally, there are further benefits to a smart parking solution.
When someone makes a reservation or buys a ticket to such a business, they can enter their license plate number in advance of their arrival. When they finally arrive at their stay, game attendance, or shopping experience, an ANPR camera recognizes their vehicle, and they can enter without waiting for more than necessary. In Copenhagen, Denmark, the Tivoli Hotel exemplifies this strategy in its smart parking solution thanks to implementing the ANPR cameras of Adaptive Recognition.
However, the above example is just one of the many things ANPR can do for certain businesses. Other customer benefits, such as valet parking, additional hotel services, or discounts for frequent users can also be linked to the plate number and provided seamlessly to customers, further elevating their experience.
Adaptive Recognition has been a leader in the plate-recognition business since 1991. The company’s ANPR cameras and the smart parking solutions enabled by these tools are among the most capable and adaptable available.
Visit Adaptive Recognition’s website to learn more about how smart parking solutions work and talk with their experts about your unique needs.