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Parking Gets Smarter

May 5, 2022

Chris Scheppmann

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.


Stephen Hawking


Parking technology has taken a significant leap over the past two or three years, but if you haven’t been paying close attention you may have missed it. The story of the last decade for the parking industry has been technology, but in recent years, the pace of advancement has been extraordinary. One of the keys has been artificial intelligence.


Adaptation


AI now permits parking technology to adapt to change. On a macro level that means that intelligent camera technology that was originally developed to provide occupancy metrics for parking guidance can now also be used for curb management, smart city functions, and even to conduct large and small parking studies for cities, institutions, and private owners.


The machine learning elements of intelligent camera technologies also provide adaptability to owners, allowing them to create camera-based technology solutions that meet their unique needs. The most obvious benefit is improving the accuracy of parking guidance systems, but it doesn’t stop there. 


Intelligent camera systems with machine learning can keep up as new types of vehicles are introduced, recognize different uses that are typical of different types of vehicles, and even recognize license plate and car signatures (e.g., plate number, plate state, car make, model, and color). As a result, the cameras can more accurately measure how many vehicles are in a parking facility or on each level of a structure and analyze whether those vehicles are delivering goods or people (in the case of rideshare services), whether they are there to park, or if they are authorized to park. The advanced capabilities of intelligent camera technology eliminate the need to have individual sensors or cameras over each parking space, thus making parking guidance much less costly to utilize.


For an added layer of granularity, while keeping a relatively low total cost of ownership, cameras can be placed strategically to provide single space monitoring and guidance. This technology is so precise that it can track the occupancy of specific spaces and manage specialty spaces (i.e., ADA, EV, VIP, etc.), capturing dwell times and providing insight into how your parking facility is being utilized.


More Than Guidance


The AI-driven platform managing the intelligent camera system is so advanced that it allows the cameras to do more than just track and count cars. It can be configured to incorporate automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR or LPR). Adding LPR enables the system to unlock frictionless parking functionality by using cameras to recognize frequent, authorized vehicles and charge their pre-arranged accounts, enable QR or text-to-pay services to tie payment to verified vehicle identity, and monitor vehicles entering parking facilities to make sure they have valid permits. It can also flag unauthorized vehicles, utilize short term parking grace periods, and even create a database of license plate details as an added layer of security and safety.


To that end, intelligent camera technology can also be set up to constantly stream video to on-site security staff who can monitor activity in parking areas. And if there is an incident—an accident or a security-related event—the footage can be reviewed, allowing parking and/or enforcement officials to determine exactly what happened. 


Open API


AI-driven intelligent camera technology represents a huge step forward in the evolution of parking guidance technology. On its own, it’s able to manage many more roles, including LPR for frictionless parking, inventory management, PARCS enhancement, improved security, and contactless payment. But when it sits on an Open API network, it can unleash a broader and even more powerful ecosystem.


Open API allows captured data to be shared to third party technologies or systems, expanding the usefulness of the technology. Think about how useful it would be to be able to connect the data captured from intelligent cameras to a public facing website or application to inform parkers about real-time parking availability and predict future availability to inform and guide parkers digitally when they are en route, or prior to their trip.   


It’s All About Adaptability


Adaptability is essential in today’s parking technology world. New types of vehicles like self-driving cars and EVs will soon predominate, smart cities will become the norm, and new mobility and transportation planning approaches will continue to alter the parking and mobility landscape. Parking owners, institutions with parking assets, and municipalities need to be able to adapt to these changes, and that begins with technology. AI-driven intelligent camera solutions are and will continue to be a cornerstone of parking technology and automation. 


Chris Scheppmann is managing member of EnSight Technologies. He can be reached at chris@ensight-technologies.com. 



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