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PIE 2020 Reacts to Coronavirus

This message was sent to all exhibitors and attendees for PIE 2020:

We at the Parking Industry Expo take the concerns about the Coronavirus very seriously. We have researched the issue with the CDC, the California Department of Health, and the San Diego Department of Health. There are a number of things we should keep in mind.

First of all, to date an extremely small number of people have tested positive for the virus in California (8), all of whom contracted the virus in China and have been quarantined. The case of the Korean flight attendant which is getting headlines today (she flew out of LAX) has been traced to a travel group from Israel –She also worked the flight from Tel Aviv to Seoul. She tested positive in Korea and is quarantined there. This is not to say that this isn’t a serious problem, but the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has commented as follows (as seen on CNN):

“If you are a traveler who has recently returned from the impacted area, we want you to be vigilant with the symptoms and signs of this coronavirus,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Local health officials are cracking down on misinformation related to the virus, including fake reports of confirmed cases and conspiracy theories about its spread. The most accurate information comes from county, state and federal health departments and is updated regularly as officials learn more. Otherwise, the CDC encourages people to follow flu season protocol: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid ill people and stay home and avoid public situations if they’re ill. A coronavirus vaccine would take at least a year to reach the public. The CDC does not recommend Americans wear surgical masks in public. Surgical masks are effective against respiratory infections but not airborne infections. While much of the world is focused on the coronavirus outbreak, influenza continues to take its toll in the United States, where an estimated 15 million people have been infected and 8,200 have died from the disease so far this flu season. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said those numbers aren’t unusually high they are far greater than the 81,000 cases and 2700 deaths as of Tuesday world wide from the Coronavirus. Sixty people have been stricken with coronavirus in the U.S. and no deaths have been reported.

We will be current on this issue and will keep those coming to PIE informed. The San Diego Convention Center has published a Fact Sheet on the Virus. Click here to view the document.

We look forward to seeing you on March 23 for the biggest, best, and most informative PIE.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.



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Tech Outpaces the Skill Sets of the Users

My friend Tom Wunk over at T2 systems called the other day with concern over what is happening in the Parking Industry concerning a knowledge base about technology and running parking operations. I asked him to put it on paper. Here is the result:

I had the opportunity to visit and review a parking operation on the East Coast. The facility is a medium sized medical campus including a hospital, several adjoining buildings supporting ambulatory outpatient care and several other ancillary medical offices. The parking facilities include two (2) garages and four (4) surface lots. There is a parking and revenue control system, having been installed three (3) years ago. There are about 2500 spaces associated with the facility, and there are a number of on-street spaces on the roads in the vicinity of the campus but would require a 10 – 12 minute walk. The parking manager has been in the position for less than 18 months with no previous experience in the parking / transportation segment.

We met and spoke about the operation as he sees it: both what is working and what is not working. The primary issue he is struggling with is managing the allocation of inventory as it pertains to staff and patients. I asked what he was doing and how he was collecting information to determine the specific issues and his process to formulate a plan to address these issues.

As awkward silence followed and then a couple of brief comments regarding attendants directing traffic, signs and traffic cones, and requests made by security.

I then asked about the parking system in place: specifically about the assignment of access cards and the allocation based on staffing roles, shifts, and the proximity to the buildings the staff members worked at. He did not know much of the info but we did call one of his staff that worked with the system. Further discussion with that staff member indicated there was little specific allocation of access capability: basically 24 / 7 at all locations. Further inquiry indicated the system administration staff had little training on the system and relied upon simple programming steps taught by previous staff members.

I did point out several steps he could take to better define the need to specific inventory and then assign access capability and visitor parking allocation. He is in the process of doing this and I anticipate further discussion moving forward.

The point to this is that I (and others) have seen all too often situations in which simple, fundamental operational / parking management techniques are not employed and the results are to the detriment of the overall business model: in this case a medical facility.

In my opinion, the industry is going through a transformation. The allure of new technology continues to surge, often outpacing the skillsets of the operational staff using said technology. The result is a blind trust in the output – ‘it must be right, it came out of a computer’.

There is an attrition of our industry knowledgeable brain trust that does not seem to be backfilled at the same rate with the same skillsets. There are plenty of new, vibrant and excited folks entering the parking and mobility sector, but are they being mentored in a manner to make them successful? I am not sure but I do know of many parking operations that are not as successful nor effective as they could be and the remedies are within reach.

Tom Wunk

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It May Seem Obvious…

Although it may seem obvious, I think we oftentimes miss it. We tell ourselves that everyone knows it but do they really. I think many projects and organizations fail because individuals don’t understand it.

People need to know, to be told, and to be supported in understanding just what their job is, what their goal is and just what their organization is trying to accomplish. Far too often we are dropped into organizations where the leadership assumes that those on board know exactly what they are supposed to do, or they are assigned so many tasks that they can’t separate the chaff from the wheat.

This is particularly true in small companies. Often we think that we can assign many tasks to individuals because one or two aren’t enough to fill their time. After we get finished with the assignments, those who are assigned the work are overwhelmed and spend their time stirring the pot rather than succeeding.

In the military we learn that we have a mission. It is assigned by the President and the leadership know exactly what it is. When that occurs, the members of the armed forces go out and do what it takes to succeed.  World War II is a prime example of that.

However when the mission is confused, or when the military is restricted in carrying out its orders, things seems to drag, and from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the squad leader on the front line, hesitation and confusion reigns.  We saw that in Vietnam where we won nearly every battle but lost the war.

In our organizations we need someone in charge of each thing we are doing who thinks its his or her job to make it happen. They must, at all costs, succeed and reach an assigned goal. They must know when they reach it, and be rewarded for reaching it.

If they have multiple tasks and multiple goals, they will surly fail, or at best revel in mediocrity.

You have two choices.  Hire people to focus on each task and succeed at it or reduce the number of tasks.

There is no other way.


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Will We Be the Next Reason People Decide to Stay Home?

John Sexton writes on the blog Hot Air that ridership on San Francisco’s fabled Bay Area Rapid Transit has fallen. Some blame it on Uber and Lyft. However readers reacting to an article in the San Jose Mercury News take a different tact:

The quality of riding on a BART train has been degrading for years. It is not the service provided by BART; it’s the quality of the rider experience. It feels less safe and less clean. There are more homeless people occupying the cars.

We used to take BART to Giants games, but now we drive or don’t go at all. Going on a non-work-related trip is discretionary, so if the trip feels unsafe or unclean, then that is a factor in deciding if the entire event is worth doing. This is especially true for evening events.

BART is seeing a drop of over 10 million rides a year. For some reason people don’t want to ride in trains that have turned into mobile housing for the homeless. And in some cases, mobile toilets. The parking structures and elevators have fallen into disrepair. The quality of the rider experience is a disaster.

If you have to ride to get to work, you will. But if you are riding for pleasure then folks elect to take Uber/Lyft or drive, or simply not go.

What does this mean to the parking industry. Reread the line above about the “quality of the rider experience.” Are we properly addressing the “Parking Experience,” or just paying lip service?

Are our garages safe, well lit and clean? Can drivers find us on their phones? Is it easy to pay and find available space?  Are the homeless sleeping in your garage? How do you answer these questions?

BART and other rapid transit operations are losing ridership right and left. Will we be the next reason people just decide to stay home?


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This Might Explain a Lot

“We encourage them to above and beyond their class work anyway, if you just do your class work we don’t feel you’re as prepared as you could be when you hit the workforce,” Terry Griffin, computer science associate professor said. (emphasis mine)

Granted this is a computer geek talking, but doesn’t he understand just how stupid this sounds.

The story was about Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and how some engineering students were using AI and other techniques to develop and app that could predict which lots had spaces available any particular time and then let students know where they should be parking.

The project too four years and the professors were proud of their students and the result. As we see from the first graph above, this wasn’t a part of normal classwork but something the students did in their spare time. Fair Enough.

However, if the teachers acknowledge that what the students learn in normal class work doesn’t prepare you for entering the work force, don’t they think some adjustment to the curriculum might be in order?



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Go to Nevada — Roll the Dice

The State of Nevada has changed the requirements to get a driver’s license. They have removed the part of the driving test that asks the driver to parallel park. Seems that this is the part of the test most failed by the prospective driver. So, naturally, why not just remove it?

According to a story over on parknews.biz, the Nevada DMV says that they are doing this to help reduce wait times in their offices, since failing the test requires applicants to return and take the test again, thus clogging up the system. That makes perfect sense to me.

We could change the rules on a lot of tests to cut down on paperwork and retaking the test. If a surgeon had a problem with say, implant a heart valve, just don’t ask him or her to do it on a test. Then all those pesky retakes would be absolved.

How about the test for lawyers. All those questions about the constitution. Why even ask? Who needs to know about such legal niceties as ex post facto and testifying against oneself? Think how quickly one could sail through the test without those questions.

Our PEOs are tasked with writing tickets for those who amongst other things, are improperly parked. So I didn’t park within 18 inches of the curb. So what. No one ever told me I had to do so. There was nothing on the driving test about parking. So therefore we might as well remove that law from the books and just let people park wherever and however they want. So it’s a parallel space, why not just pull in and let your rear end stick out in the traffic lanes.

The driving test authorizes someone to manipulate two tons of steel down the street. To drive it up to seventy miles and hour, to weave in and out of traffic. Why shouldn’t one be required to be able to park it properly? Hell they might flunk the test and have to take it again, thus causing all those problems for the DMV.

I actually bumped into another car and broke a headlight when I took my first drivers test. I was parallel parking. The tester told me that they stopped the test whenever there was an accident. But I could come back another day and try again. That I should practice a bit on my parking. So I futzed around in the high school parking lot parallel parking until I got it right, then went back, aced the test and got my license. I’m a better driver for it.

With all the accidents, finder benders and worse, I’m not sure we shouldn’t make the test harder rather than easier. Maybe this lowering of requirements is best tested in Nevada. After all that’s where you go to “roll the dice.”


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Thanks to you, PIE 2020 Breaks All Records

Or at least it will…Attendee registration is running 58% ahead of the same date last year. Booth sales are skyrocketing with 164 booked. And we have six weeks to go. This promises to be the parking event of the year. Marcy, Astrid, Kelley, Jordan and Robyn are doing a fantastic job.

We have worked diligently to involve all the attendees in our Exhibition this year. You will find that speakers and exhibitors alike will be reaching out to you to add your experience to their compendium. After all, its YOU who make these events what they are.

One always wonders just what makes an event a success. Its not only due to the hard work of our staff, but also to you, the attendees, exhibitors and speakers who are making this year’s PIE a wonderful event. The buzz that has been created around PIE 2020 is truly remarkable.

This year we have an event that can only be described as fantastic. Fantastic new venue in San Diego, fantastic keynote speaker in David Zipper, fantastic seminars embracing all aspects of parking technology and the parking experience, fantastic networking, fantastic classic car show, fantastic awards breakfast, and our fantastic closing symposium on smart parking, tech, and its relationship to the parking experience.

I’m particularly touched this year that we are continuing our honoring of the country’s military not only with a “Top Gun” themed party, but also with a seminar hosted by the Veterans in Parking and the honoring of service men and women who served on the USS Midway. It’s a small way to say thank you for your service.

Join us next month in San Diego. You will have the parking time of your life. Click here for all the details.  By the way, book your hotel NOW!!!  They are filling fast.


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Mundane Mobility Over Headline Grabbing Technology

PIE 2020 is honored to have David Zipper as our keynote speaker. Here are a few takaways from his Keynote Presentation to the POLIS (Cities and Regions for Transport Innovation) Last Fall in Brussels. Find out more about David, and PIE 2020 here

From my keynote last week at the POLIS Annual Meeting in Brussels: I argued cities should prioritize “mundane mobility” solutions over headline-grabbing technologies that can become dangerous distractions (see Hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, etc). Main takeaways: –

Say no to FOMO. A goal of being “first” to deploy a new technology revolves around a city’s image, not its strategy to improve the local mobility network. Residents care more about improving their daily commutes than whether their hometown is the first, second, or 30th city to demo a new tech product. –

Mundane mobility solutions are often the most valuable. Prosaic mobility improvements like road diets and bus shelters may not grab headlines like an autonomous shuttle or Hyperloop, but they offer proven ways to reduce crashes and attract riders to transit. –

Breakthrough mobility tech products rely on cities getting the basics right. Makers of autonomous shuttles, electric micromobility, and MaaS platforms need commuters to reduce reliance on cars– which can only happen if cities offer safe, protected lanes for bikes/micromobility and reliable, frequent public transit.

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Take a look out the Window

Long time readers of this blog know that I love to take the temperature of one issue or another by simply looking around. Weather – Look outside.. Automated Vehicles and electric cars – check out the neighborhood…Is the Metro popular – count the number of people on the train as it whizzes by…Who will be elected – ask the guy who is fixing my plumbing or works in the next cubicle… Never rely on the media or ‘experts.’
I find I have a track record as good as some, and better than most.

In this case, let’s discuss first mile, last mile micro transportation, scooters and bikes.
There was a time when you couldn’t drive down Venice Boulevard in West Los Angeles without seeing numerous people, mostly young, scooting along the street in electric scooters. They were everywhere, sometimes even in my front yard.

I noticed the other day that I hadn’t seen a Bird or Lyme scooter for a few weeks. I checked this out with a couple of neighbors and we simply couldn’t remember when we saw someone riding one of them. Are they on the way out?

We do see more and more bicycle rentals. Is that because they are perhaps safer and easier to handle than the scooters? Or were the scooters a fad and will they just fade away, to be followed by the rental bikes.

You read it here first.

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A Question and an Answer that Proves I have no Clue

I got a note yesterday from a buddy at UCLA, no not THAT buddy, I have more than one.

He was musing on the fact that so much parking in Silicon Valley is surface parking. Considering the extremely valuable land up there, he wondered why many major firms opted for lots rather than subterranean or structured parking.

It appears that when Apple built its upwards of $5 billion campus it did install parking structures, Google, however, did not, relying on five surface lots for employees and visitors. Apple build its ‘spaceship’ headquarters starting from scratch, while Google consolidated existing structures from the former Silicon Graphics headquarters.

However when you look at Silicon Valley, it is true that most of the parking is handled with surface lots. All that expensive land is covered with asphalt.

I have considered my friend’s question and come up with some possible reasons.

First, they may be planning for growth and consider the surface lots locations for future expansion.

Second, they have an almost unlimited amount of money. The value of the land may be unimportant.

Third, “Silicon Valley” isn’t a city unto itself, but the description of an area made up of numerous communities like Cupertino, Mountain View, San Jose and the like. Each of these cities have differing parking requirements for development.

Fourth, most of the companies in Silicon Valley began as startups with a small staff and small headquarters building. They then grew and like Google added buildings as they were required. Parking Structures weren’t foremost in their minds.

Fifth, I have no idea what I’m talking about.

OK, Mike. There’s my list. Whatcha think?


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