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Technology is easy, til it isn’t – There is no ‘after the fact’ in parking

Although they make it look easy, the technology companies that provide revenue control systems to parking garages perform difficult tasks in difficult environments. When a car pulls into a lane and places a paid ticket into a validator, it must work and work every time. No room for error. If the gate doesn’t go up, we have a problem that isn’t going away.

Compare that to a toll road. In many there are no gates. Cars drive through the lanes at freeway speeds and their transponders must be read instantly so the toll road authority can collect its tolls. If the transponder isn’t read a photo taken of the license plate can be read after the fact and the toll charged manually. In the meantime, the customer isn’t inconvenienced and probably doesn’t even know the problem existed. And if there was not transponder read nor picture taken, so what, no harm, no foul.

Check out what happened at Florida’s airports when the Sunpass toll road system was installed so airport parkers could use their toll road transponders to pay their parking fees at the airport. Even the slightest failure in the system brought the parking collection procedure to its knees. If the gate doesn’t go up, for any reason, the queues begin to form, and tempers raise. By reading this story, we find that the toll road supplier may not have had the systems in place to instantly deal with failure in a parking facility.

It’s the gates that force the parking systems to work. If the gate doesn’t go up, we know it instantly and all hell breaks loose. Our PARCs suppliers understand this and have developed systems that appear rock solid. They simply can’t afford to have a failure and try to fix it after the fact. There is no after the fact, Unless…

What is going to happen when gateless systems are installed? There is no check on the PARCs system. Will new suppliers come on line and provide fancy dancy systems that appear to work but really have a fail safe solution that involves manual review of the lane activity. Will there be a revenue loss that cannot be recovered?

It’s something to think about as new technology comes on line. When you buy something from Amazon and there’s a glitch of some kind, and it happens, you simply try again. Or give up and drive to Best Buy or the Supermarket. We in the parking business don’t have that latitude.

Just Sayin

JVH

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