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Parking Guidance and Occupancy Management at Boise Airport

June 13, 2022

Chris Scheppmann

Boise Airport is a joint civil-military airport located three miles outside the city of Boise, Idaho. It’s by far the largest airport in the state, serving more than all other Idaho airports combined. In fact, each year it serves around 2 million flyers, which puts it in the top 100 U.S. airports (it was the 69th busiest airport in the U.S. prior to the pandemic).


Parking guidance is particularly useful for airport parking facilities, but most airports still haven’t taken the plunge.


The steady year-to-year increase in passenger traffic has led to the need for new parking resources, and to that end a new garage, connected to the airport terminal, is being built to accommodate travelers. The new parking facility will offer 940 spaces on five levels. It is currently under construction, and it’s being built on space that housed a parking lot. 


Providing Guidance


The addition of these 940 new spaces will go a long way towards helping the airport meet its growing parking demand. But large parking facilities also present challenges, particularly to drivers who may struggle to find an open parking space quickly and conveniently. It can be mind-numbingly difficult to spy open spots in a sea of occupied parking spaces. This can be a frustrating issue for air travelers, who are often rushing to catch a flight.


Recognizing the importance of making it as easy as possible for travelers to find parking, airport administrators decided to install a parking guidance system. A good PGS can reduce the time it takes to find parking by as much as 20 minutes, and with the pressures of contemporary travel and airport security, those 20 minutes can make all the difference between catching a flight and missing it. 


Parking guidance is particularly useful for airport parking facilities, but most airports still haven’t taken the plunge. The primary reason has generally been cost. An accurate single space guidance system can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require intensive infrastructure retrofits to install. The costs and installation times (which can require spaces to be closed and result in lost revenue during installation) has deterred many airports from adding parking guidance.


Car counting systems are also an option, but in the past, they’ve been unreliable and inaccurate. The only thing worse than not provide guidance is to offer technology, that’s going to provide bad guidance. 


Today though, there’s a third option: Intelligent Camera technology to do in-motion car counting. The technology platform leverages AI to perform object recognition to guarantee 99 percent or greater accuracy. This degree of accuracy was previously only available with single spaced guidance at a fraction of the cost. The platform accurately monitors how many vehicles come and go into facilities and on individual floors. Analyzes the data to determine how many spaces are available in the area that’s being monitored. It then transmits that data to strategically located signs at garage entrances and on individual floors. The cameras also boast machine learning to assure that the system is constantly improving itself and keeping up with the introduction of new types of vehicles. 


Boise Airport will be one of the first airports in the nation to install in-motion Intelligent Camera technology, to help travelers find parking more quickly and conveniently. The airport’s system will feature six cameras, one at the entrance and exit, and one on each floor. There will also be monument signs located at the entrance to the facility and interior wayfinding signage at the entrance to each floor to let drivers know how many parking spaces are available.


One nice feature of the Boise guidance suite is that the signs will provide occupancy information, not just about the floors on which they are located, but on higher levels also. So, as travelers approach a new level, the signs tell them how many spaces are available on that level and how many are available on higher levels. This allows drivers to make informed decisions about whether to get off on that floor or proceed up. It’s a simple, easy to use solution that will dramatically improve the parking experience.


A Model for Other Airports


Intelligent Camera technology was the perfect solution for Boise Airport because it provides extraordinary accuracy for a fraction of what a traditional single space system would have cost. But perhaps its simplicity is even more attractive than the cost savings. The technology works out of the box and doesn’t require any special construction for installation. It also requires very little in the way of physical hardware maintenance since the number of hardware devices is drastically reduced when compared to a single space solution. 


And with all the things that airport administrators need to worry about, the fact that it’s so easy to install and operate is very appealing. It’s the primary reason that the Boise parking guidance program is already serving as a model for other airports across the United States.


Chris Scheppmann is managing member of EnSight Technologies. For more information about how Ensight Technologies can deliver AI-driven intelligent camera technology, please visit https://www.ensight-technologies.com, or contact Chris at chris@ensight-technologies.com. 



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