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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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