Star Trek and Anagog — I twist myself into a Pretzel with this one

In Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew goes back in time to save the earth (and a pair of whales). Upon attempting to return to their proper century, Spoke is required to guess at the data needed. The dialogue reads like this:

Kirk: Mr. Spock, have you accounted for the variable mass of  whales and water in your time re-entry program?

Spock: Mr. Scott cannot give me exact figures, Admiral, so… I will make a guess.

Kirk: A guess? You, Spock? That’s extraordinary.

Spock: [to Dr. McCoy] I don’t think he understands.

McCoy: No, Spock. He means that he feels safer about your guesses than most other people’s facts.

Spock: Then you’re saying…

[pause]

Spock: It is a compliment?

McCoy: It is.

Spock: Ah. Then, I will try to make the best guess I can.

McCoy: Please do.

McCoy knows that Spoke will take a lifetime of knowledge, data, and skill and most likely come up with the right answer. Fair enough, but what the hell does this have to do with parking.

Anagog, and Israeli company, has developed a software program that uses a “best guess” to determine where parking spaces are open and where they will soon be open. They do this by using terabytes of data they have collected about parking habits across the globe. They combine that with other data that can affect parking (weather, time of day, day of week, holidays, local customs and events, etc) and can come up with a pretty close “best guess” to tell parkers where there are open spaces near their destination. They then give the parker ‘last mile’ turn by turn directions to get to the parking space. You can visit their web site here.

Anagog also supplies this service to other parking apps to enhance their capabilities. I know it all sounds a bit “Star Trekkie” but why not?  We are creatures of habit. We tend to do things the same way, time after time.  The more data you collect, the more accurate your predictions as to how someone, or group of people, will react or in this case, park. This manner of collecting information is called ‘crowd sourcing’ and seems to be gaining favor in the high tech community.

No in street sensors, no wifi data collection, no interfacing with city computers, but you still get good, reliable parking data. And the more its used, the more information collected, the better the end result.

I invite the folks at Anagog to drop me a line and clear up some of the ‘facts’ I made up above about their company. Sometimes I just get carried away.

JVH

PS — Another reference to our industry in Star Trek IV. Kirk and Crew landed their highjacked Klingon Bird of Prey in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and as they left to find whales, transparent aluminum, and some radioactivity for fuel, his last words to the three groups  was “Don’t forget where we parked.”

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Missoula Lets Residents Try Out New Meters

Every industry has its jargon. Some of it is easy to figure out, some of it is like an unbreakable code. I recently refinanced my mortgage and was, despite previous experience with the process, totally confounded by the words my agent kept using. Funding, subordinating, escrow – these are words whose absolute meaning, in the context of a loan, escape me. Call me stupid. They rattle off those words like I should know exactly what they’re talking about, and I just nod and sign papers.

The parking industry has its share of jargon. It also has an array of equipment that must seem so simple to its inventors and installers, but completely confuses everyone else – especially the first-time user. The leaders of Missoula, Montana want to take the guess work out of meter use for their residents. According to Missoulian.com, they’ve invited residents to a parking meter open house to try out different types of smart meters.

Three vendors will bring their single-space and multi-space meters and showcase the features of their hardware and software. The Parking Meter Open House will take place Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St., in the Three Rivers Room.

The open house is part of a year-long series of meetings to help the city and it’s residents transition from outdated meters to the newest model. It sounds like a great idea to me. Those who attend will be able to fill out a questionnaire about their opinions of the various meters that the city will take into consideration as it selects equipment. Exposure is an excellent way to take the confusion out of industry offerings.

Read the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

3M and its Parking Customers, a New Seminar added at PIE

We have had a number of requests to hold a seminar for the former parking customers of 3M. Their leaving the parking business has left a very large number of parking managers concerned. What to do?  How to do it? Panic? Not Panic? Many have a number of 3M (Federal APD) systems, how to transition into new equipment? What to look for? What are the pitfalls.

So we are adding a new seminar on Monday morning, specifically for former 3M customers. This will be for end users only, suppliers will not be admitted.  The discussion will be chaired by David Teed and Sarah Blouch, CEO and President of campusparc, the private entity that runs all the parking at The Ohio State University, and which has a large number of 3M systems that need to be addressed.

Campusparc has already begun a process of looking to transition from the 3M product line, and David and Sarah have agreed to share the process they are using with other 3M customers. This will be a completely generic conversation, discussing the process, not the end result. The type of equipment purchased, of course, will vary depending on the customer, the application and funding.

The Campusparc team will answer questions and facilitate discussion among those present.

After the seminar, the attendees will be exposed to nine revenue control vendors at three seminars held over the next two days, plus be able to meet with them and see the features and benefits of their products on the exhibit hall floor.

For more information and to register, got to pieshow.parkingtoday.com.

JVH

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Looking Ahead, PIE 2016 and 2017

Yes, The Parking Industry Exhibition will be held at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas on February 28-March 2, 2016. We are moving from our traditional venue to stretch our legs a bit and move to a bit more of a ‘party’ venue, since 2016 will be Parking Today’s 20th anniversary celebration. We will be beginning to talk it up after the PIE show next month in Chicago, culminating with a huge party in the city that means party.

We will be back in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare March 5-8, 2017. We like the Chicago Venue for many reasons. It’s easy to get to. You don’t need a car or shuttle from the airport (the hotel takes care of that.) The ability to hold the exhibition, seminars and networking events under the same roof means more time for conversations about parking. And its a three hour flight or less from almost everywhere in the US, rather than requiring those on the west coast to sit five hours on a plane to get to say, Miami.

See you next month in Chicago — March 29-April 1 2015 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Get all the info at pieshow.parkingtoday.com.

 

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Hoboken Contemplates New Parking Measures

Parking in Hoboken will soon be a whole new ball game, according to nj.com. The website reports this small, congested city has tight streets and limited parking options, but that’s going to change. City leaders are considering some measures to improve parking in Mile Square City.

Here are six changes on the table:

1. New parking meters
2. Higher penalties
3. Pay by phone option
4. Valet parking
5. Wayfinding system
6. New garages

I, too, live in a small town with tough parking, and I like all of these ideas, but I have my favorites. The latest increase in parking meter fees brought the cost up to $1.50 per hour. It’s not an extravagant amount by any means, and I’m not complaining about the total. It’s the number of quarters required to reach that amount that I object to. I think there should be a top limit to what you can charge without offering a credit card payment option. So, I think new meters are great, and I hope they are of the most intelligent kind.

Higher penalties is my other favorite. I don’t want to pay them, but I don’t want to pay any penalties, so I follow the rules. There are plenty of people who don’t, and I think it only fair that they pay a higher price for their behavior. Between the inconvenience they cause the rest of us and the price of enforcement, I say higher fees are completely reasonable.

I wish Hoboken all the best in its deliberations and eventual implementations.

Read the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Parking Program Helps Scofflaws Come Clean

During 2013, the University of Oregon parking enforcement team issued more than 15,000 tickets and received payment for all but 6,000, reports dailyemerald.com.

The fee for those unpaid tickets doubles after 30 days. Because of the high number of unpaid tickets and the high price multiple offenders face to clear their fees, the university has created an “amnesty” program for parking offenders. During February, anyone with an unpaid ticket can pay fines at the original rate.

To qualify for the amnesty program, the citation must have been issued before Jan. 1, 2014, and the vehicle cannot be registered in the university parking system.

Without this new program, the parking and transportation department could potentially receive an additional $300,000.

After applying this program, that amount could drop to $175,000 in total.

“We’d rather collect a small amount than not collect anything at all,” says Gwen Bolden, director of parking and transportation department..

I think this is an very generous offer from the university. Sure, they’ll be losing some money, but compare that to the cost of administrating the thousands of unpaid parking tickets still in circulation, and it might be a sensible exchange. Some people procrastinate paying fines – out of rebellion, poverty and a hundred other things – and that’s only exacerbated when the fine increases in a way that seems arbitrary to the offender. This program gives those people a chance to settle up.

Read the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Are Drones the New Parking Enforcers?

I find the possibility of drones enforcing parking regulations to be equally fascinating and frightening. According to gulftoday.ae, a Mr. Mohammed Darweesh has entered is parking enforcement drone prototype in the UAE Drones for Good Award event. Darweesh, an architect, designed the drone and says it will work with RIFD technology and will find its charging and grounding stations at the top of streetlight poles. The drone will take only seconds to to do the same work it takes a person to do in minutes.

“Dubai has a huge number of parking spaces and is being managed by over 900 inspectors, while drivers have to pay at the parking meters and put the parking receipt on prominent place like a dashboard to avoid fines. In the presence of this drone technology, there will be no need for drivers to find a parking meter and repeat the exercise. Just park the car and leave everything to the drone. The drone will come and read the Salik tag with the help of RIFD technology and charge the parking fee automatically,” Darweesh said.

It’s an amazing idea. I’m sure there are members of the parking industry more qualified to ask questions than I, but I have a few anyway:

1. What are the possible consequences of a malfunction?

2. How would individuals contest a ticket, if the drone made a mistake?

3. How will a hundred drones flying over a city checking meters improve ambiance?

4. What if the drones are hacked or shot down?

Now that I have shared my concerns, I’ll go back to thinking this is an amazing idea. I’d like to see it in action. Read the rest of the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Supply and Demand — the Rules Still Hold

We don’t often consider the ‘law’ of supply and demand when it comes to parking, but it fits in our business just as much as the selling of commodities, or widgets, or frankly anything else.

Consider: If the supply of parking spaces goes up,  and the demand remains steady, the price of a space tends to go down. On the other hand, if the demand for parking spaces increases, and the supply remains the same, the price tends to go up (Can you say Manhattan?)

I had a conversation the other day with a parking pro in Vancouver, BC. I had parked in a rather large structure near his office and noted that it was controlled by ‘pay by license plate’ equipment. I also noted that at noon on a business day, the garage was virtually empty.

“Yep” he said. “When the demand when south and the supply stayed the same, we had to do something. It meant reducing staff by automating and keeping our operational costs at a minimum.”

Seems that about four years ago the city opened a rapid transit system linking downtown to the Vancouver airport. In addition to helping travelers get from the airport to downtown more easily, it also reduced about 50,000 daily trips into the downtown area, and the resulting need for parking. Demand down, supply the same.

The parking industry in this city is flat, but not emotionally depressed. There are many office buildings under construction downtown and few if any have parking included in the design. In a few years, I’m told, as these new buildings fill, demand will rise, and with supply remaining the same, parking will be “back”in Hollywood North, as Vancouver, known in entertainment circles.

This cycle is being played out in other cities across North America as “progressive’ city councils look for ways to keep cars out of the central business districts and legislate autos and hence parking out of existence. More than three decades ago, Seattle approved Columbia Center, a 72 story skyscraper downtown. Virtually no parking was added to the facility. San Francisco completed Westfield Shopping Center in the trendy SOMA area  with no parking. Is the trend pervasive?  Yeah, kinda, sorta. Look around your city.

We are being told that the ‘young’ people today think less about cars than about their smart phones.  In ‘my day’ the first thing you did when you turned 16 was get a driver’s license. Now I try to bribe my granddaughter with a car, and she isn’t interested. Yikes.

Some tell us that the urbanization of youth is a passing trend and as soon as they marry and have families they will return to the ‘burbs’ and the lure of that quarter acre and white picket fence. I know that oldsters are moving downtown, living in lofts and walking to clubs, restaurants, shopping, and work. And apparently they love it.

Wanna go skiing, or a quick trip to Vegas, rent a car. Why have the expense of owning one and the hassle of PARKING?

What’s all this mean to our industry?  Operators I spoke to were cautiously optimistic. They felt that it meant that not just demand would affect bottom lines, but also the ‘way’ parking was run would be a major factor.

We have seen that automation and technology are making the way we park a different experience. Parking apps that connect what we are doing downtown with parking also are becoming more important as demand lessens.

My sources tell me that patience is needed. As central business districts become more crowded, as buildings are renovated, built, and filled with offices and living space, parking supply will remain the same and demand will increase.

If that occurs, smiles will again appear on operator’s faces. In the meantime, to survive, the will have to rethink their business model and affect how they handle and operate parking space supply.  They ignore change at their peril.

JVH

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

City is Honest About Parking Meter Problems

Reporters in Huntington, West Virginia recently took it upon themselves to conduct an in-depth analysis of parking meter use in their town, and the results were surprisingly informative and impartial. Both disgruntled residents and hardworking city officials were represented, and the facts were laid out clearly. According to the crew at wowktv.com crew, people around town don’t like the old-fashioned meters that are always falling apart – victims of the weather and frequent vandalism.

Huntington Parking Board Director Mike Wilson says about half of the city’s 1350 meters are still mechanical rather than digital. Wilson compared the meters to older vending machines.  He said that the machines are subject to weather and other conditions that cause them to break. Wilson said he gets up to ten broken meter reports a day.

Huntington parkers prefer the digital meters that work reliably and keep time accurately. The older meters, according to the article, time out within 4o to 15 minutes before they should, resulting in invalid citations.

Wilson says those meters and parking tickets get fixed and dismissed after the customer files a broken meter report.

Wilson added, “We would hope you would call us if you feel you got a citation in error. I have a certified meter technician we can send out.”

It sounds like everybody in town is in agreement that the older meters are an issue, and the city tries its best to accommodate the problem. Besides a whole new installation of sparkling digital meters, that’s the best anybody can expect.

Read the rest of the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Baby, it’s still cold out there

With severe winter storms still rolling in and out of the Eastern states, weather continues to be a major item in parking news. In Providence, RI, and many other places, expected snowfall has created the need for school closures and parking bans, reports providencejournal.com. School children rejoice, but anybody over 20 and employed knows the inconvenience will be serious and expensive.

A citywide parking ban will go into effect at 2 a.m. on Monday, and remain in effect until further notice. Residents with overnight parking passes are advised that they cannot park on the street during the duration of the citywide parking ban. All vehicles parked on the street in violation of the citywide parking ban will be ticketed and towed to ensure that roadways can be plowed.

As someone who has lived most of his life in milder climates, it can be a stretch to understand how humans actually survive in places where it gets so cold. It’s not hard to say they are probably just stronger people than I am. Adversity is a part of life, but I’ll take mine in forms that don’t have to do with the weather.

“We expect heavy snowfall, high winds and other conditions that will significantly impact both the morning and evening commutes on Monday,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “I urge residents to comply with the citywide parking ban, exercise caution and prepare for rapidly changing travel conditions throughout the day. If you see a person or a family in need, please do what you can to either lend a helping hand or notify the City. When we all pull together, we are capable of overcoming any challenge.”

It’s a nice, positive spin Providence’s mayor provides. Residents might get through the storm more easily if they see themselves as a team united against the weather.

Read the rest of the article here.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment