Magazine

It's Not Just Fun and Games: App Integration Flexibility Essential to Bottom Line

In cities such as New York – where alternate-side-of-the-street-parking rules, curb cuts, bus stop

By Daniel Saccullo

Forget CamMe, Barstool Sports and Angry Birds Star Wars. Many of the hottest new iOS and Android apps on the market have nothing to do with keeping us entertained but a lot to do with keeping us sane.

For those who drive in dense, urban environments, we know there’s almost nothing that makes us crazier than circling city blocks, slowly, over and over again, looking for an empty parking space or a garage that isn’t full.

In cities such as New York – where alternate-side-of-the-street-parking rules, curb cuts, bus stops, school zones, hospitals and fire hydrants diminish available street parking and garages are often full before midday – finding a spot takes valuable time.

Any company that successfully develops a solution, or can put a bandage on the urban parker’s pain, is bound to be a money-maker. So it’s no surprise that new developers with new apps seem to enter the parking market every day, hoping their innovation is the one that solves the problem.

From apps that can tell you if a parking spot is legal to others that provide the location of available spaces on the street and in garages, offer coupons, or remind you when your meter is set to expire, these apps make the challenges of urban parking a little more manageable every day.



The reduction of stress to the parking public is welcome, but what about the stress of the garage operator whose existing software system may not accommodate these technological newcomers?

If drivers use an app to find open garage spaces and your system doesn’t work with that app, that driver will head somewhere else.  If your system doesn’t work with the web service that offers the discount coupon or rate information, the driver will head to another garage whose software does.

The parking industry’s evolution has been driven by technological advances for many years, but the technology curve keeps getting steeper, and only those in the industry that can keep pace will survive. Once considered ground-breaking, revenue control and data analysis software has been integrated into almost every system, catapulting individual businesses and the industry itself to new levels of sophistication and efficiency.

These advances have been integral to the evolution of the parking garage from owner/operator businesses to their current position as attractive vehicles for third-party investment. With new investors often comes management change and new expectations of their operating software, particularly that it will be able to integrate the latest innovations. If it doesn’t, the new system they will likely purchase to replace it most certainly will.

So what key characteristics should every garage owner require of their parking software system platform to support their bottom line and the need to remain relevant in the continually evolving parking environment?

The platform must be stable, with a streamlined user interface.

The software must be proven so operators trust it has been developed, tested and fine-tuned to ensure reliability and ease of use for parking management and revenue control.

The system must be adaptable to monthly parking requirements, including radio-frequency identification (RFID), used more and more often for locations with monthly customers.

The platform must be flexible, with maximum compatibility with third-party applications to find parking, reserve parking and pay for parking. Coupons, apps and other programs must be easy to set up and track, and easy for users to redeem.

The system must be built on a secure platform: Garage operators must ensure users that the interactivity between the garage systems and their mobile devices will not compromise the security of their or their customers’ information.

No system is perfect, so selecting one with a reliable company track record for user support and maintenance is essential. Further, the system must be scalable, so that it not only meets the garage’s current needs, but can also accommodate its growth for tomorrow.

It may still be a jungle out there when it comes to big city parking problems, and even the most highly developed parking operator software, on-street parking payment systems or intelligently designed applications can’t eradicate the parking ticket or increase parking inventory in urban environments. But smart, forward-thinking software solutions are essential to ensure strong revenue results for parking operators in these areas.

Don’t let customers do a drive-by of your garage because your otherwise extremely competent software wouldn’t play nice with their smartphone spot finder app or download your coupon. A little less time and aggravation in trying to find those parking spots means more money to buy Angry Birds Star Wars cheats and more time for those Birds to smite the Evil Empire’s Pigtroopers.



Contact Daniel Saccullo, Director of Software Development at Ticketech International, at daniel@ticketech.com.



 

Article Abstract from September, 2013




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