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Easing the Perils of Parking; An Automated Solution

October 5, 2019

Christian Hermansen

Parking is a necessary evil. It’s something we all do. Before going shopping, hanging out with friends, or before catching a game. It’s the experience before the experience.


As someone who has recently joined the parking-sphere, I see parking as something where you either have a neutral experience or a below-average one. 


This lines up with the feedback I hear from friends, family, and members of the general public. People forget the times where everything worked perfectly but remember the bad times. Circulating for ages, not being able to find a space, getting confused by not knowing where to drive, and the resulting congestion; all reasons for a negative parking experience. 


Parking is also [normally] the first impression a customer gets of the place where they’ve just arrived. Everyone knows how the first impression is in any interaction. It sets the tone for the experience. 


Making it easy, stress-free, and frictionless means your customer is content when they walk in the door, ready to engage with your offering, rather than lamenting over the bad experience they had in your parking lot. Many large providers and operators of parking, particularly shopping centers, airports, and cities, are acknowledging this and are taking steps to ensure the best neutral (or even, net positive) experience possible for users of their parking.


If only there was some way of automatically displaying occupancy and guiding people to available parking spaces.


Frogparking and the Irvine Company have been partnered for five years to make parking easier for visitors to the massive SoCal shopping center, the Irvine Spectrum Center. It started with the outdoor parking area and then moved to the indoor spaces, with a number of custom requirements catered for along the way.


It made sense, then, that the Irvine Company sought to install another indoor solution at the brand new, Block 800 site on the south side of the site. Being a brand new garage, a key component of the project was to keep that minimal, slick, and premium look and feel with the parking guidance installation. 


Since implementing the initial parking guidance project at the Irvine Spectrum Center, we developed and patented a new method of detecting vehicles. Using an eye-safe, class-1 laser sensor mounted in the middle of the driving aisle, instead of an older, Bluetooth sensor. 


The new sensor has been advantageous for all of our customers, not just the Irvine Company. Not only did this change in sensing method lead to greater detection accuracy, but also greater reliability from eliminating batteries, having no hardware on the often-harsh road surface, and a lower cost of install.


However, with a new sensor in the equation, the site’s existing strip-lighting and LED guidance lights needed a redesign to incorporate new components.


There are some other significant benefits to integrating parking guidance technology with existing lighting infrastructure.


For example, integrating with the existing infrastructure at the parking lot meant an extremely low impact installation, to date. Being able to use an existing power supply by wiring power into the same power supply as the lights reduces costly cabling
or the need to supply specialized power points. 


It also shows the benefits of working with a company large enough to deliver on a 7,000 space plus installation, but small enough to be agile and responsive to custom requirements - something our existing customers tell us is a feature they appreciate.


Anecdotal evidence on the ground suggests that the parking guidance is working. Speaking to parking users on a recent site visit, many told me they thought the garage looked very smart, new, premium, and clean. Users also told us they enjoyed the easy journey, fast parking, and they compared the experience they’d just had with an experience in a garage without parking guidance. Customers often cited those “red and green lights and the signs” as the reason for their good experience. 


An easier parking experience starts you off on the right foot with your customers. Reduce the time to park, reduce congestion, reduce circulation time; increase the customer’s experience. 


Christian Hermansen is Frogparking’s Brand Manager. He can be reached at christian@frogparking.com.


 



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