On the 23rd of June the third Intertraffic webinar took place. This edition parking experts came to stage and talk about Smart Parking-optimising the customer journey. Read or watch what Julian O'Kelly of the British Parking Association, Florian Schneeberger of SKIDATA and Ben Boutcher-West of Appyway have to say about this subject.
The theme of Intertraffic’s third webinar, this time with the focus on Smart Parking - Optimising The Customer Journey, was beautifully encapsulated by the event's first speaker, Julian O'Kelly, the British Parking Association's (BPA) Head of Technology, Innovation and Research. "There's a saying - never waste a crisis," he said, adding that the parking sector had used the opportunities to re-set and re-think afforded to it by the pandemic to be both innovative and empathetic. In the UK both on- and off-street parking charges were lifted during the lockdown but now that it is easing and charges are being reintroduced the driving (and therefore parking) public need to be suitably informed. The parking sector has, in a few short months, evolved considerably. How, the panel were asked to explore, has the COVID crisis impacted upon the parking industry and in what ways has it accelerated the digitalisation of the business of parking?
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"The retail environment as we knew it will be changed for a long time until public confidence improves and people return to shops in their previous numbers. Parking management will need to evolve to facilitate dynamic pricing, virtual loading bays, last mile deliveries and so on."
O'Kelly was quick to point out the role of national and local governments in the unusually rapid changes of policy brought about by COVID-19. "A lot of these changes were under way but have been accelerated by the pandemic."
With a huge increase in the numbers of people working from home, changes in residential parking requirements are also being closely monitored.
"These enforced behavioural changes will result in the need for more residential parking balanced against the need for social distancing and adequate footways and cycle lanes, not to mention parking facilities for bikes," he maintained, highlighting a Danish initiative to stagger school and work start times to counteract the effects on traffic patterns.
There is a real opportunity to re-imagine parking to look at parking spaces as mobility spaces (Julian O'Kelly, British Parking Association)
"There is a real opportunity to re-imagine parking to look at parking spaces as mobility spaces," he concluded, "and as places where we transfer to active travel, charge EVs or give power back to the network in V2G, access new forms of last mile transport eg micro mobility and also staging posts for logistics and micro logistics can be supported."
Florian Schneeberger, SKIDATA’s Vice President Business Line Management & Innovation, insisted that the parking sector had been impacted massively, but of equal concern was the difficulties of different regions emerging from lockdown at different stages and at different speeds.
“On the one hand the efforts to digitalise the parking industry have been ramped up, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “And on the other the need for safety and security has increased together with the move away from cash and away from anything you have to touch.”
The need for safety and security has increased together with the move away from cash and away from anything you have to touch. (Florian Schneeberger, SKIDATA)
Privacy is also an issue that’s now come into focus because of the coronavirus.
“Data privacy in particular – all parking data systems need to be compliant and this starts the discussion about in-car payments using the fingerprint of the vehicle, the exponential increase in the use of pay by phone and ticket scanning. The widespread implementation of these innovations is now imminent due to the crisis.”
Ben Boutcher-West, our third speaker, and Head of Mobility, Kerbside and Parking Solutions at AppyWay, set the cat among the pigeons by describing parking as “failed mobility”, but his tongue-in-cheek comment was tinged with seriousness as he opined the virus’s side-effect of taking up valuable parking spaces with “static cars”, blocking much-needed access to the city and preventing health workers and key deliveries from being able to park close to their intended stop.
Boutcher-West firmly believes that the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the momentum towards smart kerbside management and in particular the automation of the kerbside. “We need to harness the basics of supply and demand in one simple platform that is ultimately hosted by government who, after all, own the kerbside we’re talking about.”
We’re talking of a return to normal at some point but we should, as a sector, be embracing the changes that this pandemic has brought about. (Ben Boutcher-West, Appyway)
Boutcher-West insists that with home goods deliveries across Europe increased by up to 70% since the introduction of the lockdown restrictions but with large numbers of those deliveries being made by vehicles that have no choice but to double-park, that the penetration of digital services cannot come quickly enough. “We’re talking of a return to normal at some point but we should, as a sector, be embracing the changes that this pandemic has brought about.”
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