Interesting articles that are related to parking management or parking enforcement. These may be news articles or blog posts from other sites.
Fee collection for private parking violations not out of reach for companies
Not all private parking companies have gone down the road of issuing their parking violations. Smaller operations, in particular, might operate under a belief that the additional workload to manage violations is beyond their budget or their resources. If a small staff contingent is already overworked, why would they want to add another level of responsibility? Wouldn’t it be easier to either forgo violations entirely or farm the process out to a 3rd party? Don’t jump to that conclusion too quickly. While there are hurdles to navigate and pros and cons to consider, many smaller private companies successfully manage violations. They generate a positive return on investment while seeing other operational benefits as well. We’ve outlined a few things to think about so you can decide what makes the most sense for you.
Know what parking tickets or charges are possible before you start
First of all, it’s important to understand your market. Municipalities differ in what and how they allow and manage tickets or charges for illegal parking. While there are some common practices across Canada, your first stop should be with your local municipal office. You may need to work with your local municipality to create something suitable for your situation.
Expect to hear “Do I have to pay this private parking ticket?”
Part of your job if you choose to collect on parking violations is managing communications around the requirement for payment. It’s common for people to question the authenticity of the charge. Furthermore, they question the company’s authority to issue it in the first place. The average person also probably isn’t aware of the difference between a municipally issued “parking ticket” and the private parking violations – if any (again depending on your municipality).
Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros, cons, and issues you’ll have to consider.
- First and foremost, this is a potential revenue opportunity. Unique to each operation, you’ll need to determine for yourself if the cost associated with implementing this will offset the potential revenue generated. You also need to consider how much of a return will make the extra effort worth it.
- One of the benefits of the threat of further costs for parking illegally is that drivers tend to be more compliant with the rules. If they know it’ll cost them for parking longer than they should or trying to park without paying, they’re more likely to follow the rules and pay the required fees. The first charge or action by you is often the only notice a person needs to understand the implications. Compliance will improve over time, which could have an impact on your revenue and ROI analysis.
- Along with the improved compliance comes happier customers. Drivers will be less likely to park in reserved or permitted customers spaces so there will be fewer inconvenienced clients when a spot is unavailable. This also makes it easier to manage prohibited parking times (for line painting, snow removal, etc.). With notifications to customers via email, you have minimal illegal parkers (if any), and you can quickly make the spaces available again.
- Violation management software will help you to track repeat offenders and manage them appropriately. There are different strategies you can consider, including collections, towing (cost restrictive), or booting a vehicle. Often, parking management companies will work with a repeat offender to reduce the total owed to clear the account quickly and encourage future compliance.
- For many operations who start collecting for parking violations, they find efficiencies in how they operate. They deal with fewer issues with their good customers. They have a formal and practical process to deal with those in violation. Some also find that with better compliance and procedures, they can consider more options for how they issue permits and manage their lots. This often leads to further revenue opportunities because you better understand your customers. For example, you might notice a large group of customers consistently stay beyond their allotted time which might be the catalyst for a new, longer permit type that you can sell for a premium.
- You will have new operational costs. The most significant costs will be around the staff and resources needed for patrol staff. You will also need to factor in any costs for plate lookup for unknown vehicles which will be with local state or provincial departments. Collections will also have a cost. In many instances, parking operations try to manage collections themselves. Using collections is a last resort. However, both processes will have costs.
- You need to manage this within the process required by your municipality. This means meeting any municipal certification or licensing standards. Patrol people, for example, need to be licensed to issue an official municipal ticket. Work with your local municipality to understand what you can and can’t do outside of an official designation. You may need to work out an arrangement with them to achieve a scenario that makes sense for you.
- If you are issuing municipal tickets, the municipality gets the ticketing revenue. If this is the only option available to you, then any ROI is generated through improved compliance and more paid permits rather than fines or violations.
- Collections are not always easy. Whether you choose to use an outside agency or manage it in-house, there is a cost associated with it. You can help yourself by making the process of payment easier with an online payment and appeal system. The additional of images to help document the violation typically leads fewer appeals as it’s hard to debate evidence. You can check out our blog Pesky Outstanding Fines – The headache for parking managers for some suggestions on how to structure your collections process for the best results.
- You may be required to meet a formalized process to satisfy municipal requirements. This often includes having clear evidence of where and when an infraction took place. Furthermore, allowing for an appeal process, and options for early payment discounts. A stable violations management system (like what you can get with OPS-COM) comes with many of those features already included, so this may be a simple hurdle to navigate.
Find out what others are doing
Other private companies have successfully implemented a process for fee collection of private parking violations. If you have connections with colleagues in the industry, you might want to reach out and see what their experience was like. We’ve had many conversations with parking operations about issuing and managing violations and would be happy to talk about your unique situation and options. Feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 855-410-4141.
Parking management RFP – where to start?
Whether you’re looking to put together your first parking management RFP or you’ve done this before, starting with a review of best practices is always a good idea. After all, the quality of your RFP is often reflected back to you in the quality of the proposals you receive.
We’ve responded to a few RFPs in our time, and based on our experience, there are some qualities of an RFP that make it easier to reply with a very specific proposal that reflects exactly what your parking department wants and needs.
1. Be clear about your objectives, goals, and targets
- You’re better off defining the details of the problem you’re trying to solve than you are trying to define the solution you want. Let the proponents match their features to your needs.
- Define your ideal outcomes with numbers if you can. For example, if you want a parking management system to create efficiency so you can reduce your human resource budget by 15%, or if you hope that an LPR system can improve the area your patrol team covers by 50%, include those numbers.
- Prioritize your desired features and consider categorizing them as Priority 1, Priority 2 etc. This helps proponents differentiate between the “must” have and the “should” have features you’re looking for. It also helps them understand your timing and if a staged, multi-year approach would best help you achieve your goals.
2. Don’t ditch the template, but review and reformat it before using it
- Standard statements that often appear in RFP templates from online sources or large procurement departments aren’t always relevant. Proponents might be confused which will lead to questions you’ll need to address later on. Review the template and question your procurement team about any content that is out of context for your parking management RFP.
- Templates can be huge time savers when it comes to legal information and ensuring you have all the practical details all RFPs should have. Especially if you lack experience with RFPs, you should lean on the structure and content of a suitable template.
- Consider reaching out to other parking operations for a sample of an RFP they’ve recently issued and had success with. You can borrow language, ideas, or even entire sections from them. But, it’s not suggested to just “copy and paste” another group’s parking management RFP. Potential proponents might recognize the questions or sections and question if the RFP is being influences by another potential supplier. If they think it is, they might choose not to submit because they think the project is “wired” for another company. You might miss out on a good potential supplier as a result.
3. Be specific about the format you want to receive proposals in
- The format and “feel” of your RFP will often influence the format of the responses you receive. If your RFP is excessively lengthy and wordy for example, proponents might be inclined to respond with the same approach.
- Asking proponents to reply in a very specific structure will make it easier for you to compare one to the other. It is however somewhat limiting for the proponents and might result in you seeing information repeated or slightly out of place because they had something to say but weren’t sure where to fit it in. A combination of a concise structure with one or two sections more “open” strikes a good balance.
- Limiting the page length is a good idea if you expect to receive many responses. It’ll make it easier to get through them and you’re less likely to “glaze over” the ones that you review last.
4. Share your evaluation criteria
- Proponents like to know how you’ll evaluate and score their submissions. It offers them insight into your priorities and gives them a sense of how much to emphasize one section over another. It also helps them determine if they’re a good candidate or not and if they should submit at all.
- If pricing is a factor you need to decide how much information to disclose. Some think sharing your budget in the RFP is a good idea, and others don’t. Decide for yourself or with the help of your procurement department if you have one.
5. Remember, you’re purchasing software
Another important tip is to remember what you’re procuring. Software. Many parking managers aren’t technology experts and the process of procuring software can be more complex than other items and services. And the procurement of any software is made much easier when you are clear in the RFP what system or systems will require integration with the new software. This gives you proposal submissions that you can be confident reflect the reality for implementation and are less likely to need additional budget approvals for “surprise” integration support.
Why a phased approach to adopting parking or security software works
Most parking and security operations eventually decide that technology is the answer to improve how they manage things. The more difficult question is where to start and how big of leap forward is necessary.
Parking security software management systems make life easier for operations of all sizes with all types of priorities. A very small department might need technology to help make better use of limited staff and budget. While a mid-sized operation wants to be able to better plan their lots and parking allocations to grow revenue.
The larger enterprise might want all of that and access to a constant stream of data for analytics and ongoing improvements.
Understanding what software solution is the best fit is about understanding what your priorities are right now and what immediate problems you want to solve.
What you might uncover is that a very basic introduction to a new technology satisfies your most imminent concerns and phasing in other features and functionalities lets you better manage your budget while still making big improvements in how efficiently you operate.
Choosing parking and security management software isn’t like buying a car
When you buy a car, you negotiate all the features you want from the start. You get the sunroof, leather interior, and extended warranty before you leave the lot. Nobody wants to come back to add heated seats later because it’s inconvenient and likely going to cost you more.
Your parking or security management software shouldn’t force you into an all-or-nothing scenario. The OPS-COM system is an excellent example of a modular solution that lets you choose what you need now and add to the package later, without the cost escalating outside your budget.
From our experience, a phased approach to adopting software for parking or security management has been the best fit for clients who are focused on addressing one or two areas that are causing the most problems in their operations.
An example, if you are a smaller parking and security department on campus, and you’re looking for a technology solution to help you better manage your permit process. You don’t necessarily need to adopt a full-scale parking solution with all the bells and whistles.
The first step can be into a solution that gives you a customer database with a user-friendly customer self-serve online permit application feature. You offer your customers better access. While you minimize the time your staff spends with paper applications and interacting directly with customers.
Initially it may be that you want to consider how you can reduce staff time and make your parking office more efficient. Often small tweaks rather than large leaps can make noticeable improvements in both the time and emotional commitments of patrol and counter staff alike.
Down the road, you can look at providing your field teams with handheld devices or using the system to manage violations. You can leave less pressing issues until later. Both young and older staff enjoy being invested in new technology. In many cases, a staff member will lead he charge in such an area and become a mentor to other non-technical staff.
If you’re considering adding license plate recognition (LPR) technology, you can phase that in as well. Pay by plate permits could be a starting point with patrol teams looking up plates in a searchable database. You could then choose to equip your patrol teams with cameras either vehicle-mounted or as part of their hand-held device.
Advantages and disadvantages of a phased approach
Let’s start with two of the most significant disadvantages. Depending on the size your operation is, you might find that a single adoption of a new system is less disruptive. Reason being that everything happens at once on a much shorter timeline. While individual implementation is a significant disruption, it’s a one-time event. You don’t have to ask your team to go through it again in the coming months or years.
Training has similar issues, and while there will be more training required it’s all done at once. You may also see a quicker return on investment (ROI) because the benefits and efficiency gains are more widespread. This is where staff buy-in is a huge benefit, as more staff buy into the process and offering, more staff are able to assist those that might be intimidated by new processes or new technology.
Less Risk: With a phased approach if there are problems they are isolated to one area and not your entire operation. This might make it easier to get buy-in from senior management.
Quick Improvements in Priority Areas: Choosing to start with technology that solves your most immediate concerns, quickly fixes those areas that are least efficient.
Better Control: Making small changes means, you have better control over how it happens and its implementation. This is especially important for groups who have limited resources to dedicate to the transition.
Easier Approvals: With a smaller budget, the risk is lower. It’s easier to get approvals quickly to move forward. The options include spreading costs over an extended period and various budgets. Costs may be low enough that you don’t require an RFP to purchase the software.
Smoother Adoption: Changes are only occurring in a specific area, so there is less disruption to other parts of your business. As well, the feedback you receive from the first phase can help direct and improve future phases.
What you should know about the costs
We only feel comfortable talking about the costs of our system. It’s worth asking other vendors what a phased approach would cost for their system.
With OPS-COM, the difference between adopting our entire system, vs. phasing in the different features over four years is approximately 10%. This will depend on what you want your final system to look like, but it’s a good benchmark.
Keep in mind that the longer the time frame of your phased approach, the more likely it is that you’ll see a point where the system price increases during that time. So, you’ll need to build that into your budget as well.
Another important consideration is that we often work with operations which can easily take a phased approach and avoid the headache of the RFP process. We covered some details about security and parking management RFPs in a recent blog, including information on forgoing the RFP entirely.
We work with groups all the time who want to understand where to get started and how to adopt new technology on their timeline. If you have questions, please contact us, and we’d be happy to help.
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Parking management software and business process management for parking isn’t just for the big guys. Smaller businesses or groups like your parking and security department have as much to gain from improvements in how this is accomplished.
In 2016, AIIM released survey results where they suggested that 41% of companies who invested in business process management saw a ROI within a year.
What is Business process management? It’s any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows. All in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers, and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.
Sounds daunting, we know. But for smaller parking management operations, you can scale the process to achievable, realistic efforts to make minor improvements over time. You also reap the benefits in the long run. You are primarily looking at different aspects of your operation and finding ways to improve how you do things.
Furthermore, there are lots of resources out there to help you get started and determine where you can make improvements. A blog in HUFFPOST recommends seven places to start when you’re jumping into the world of BPM. The general premise of improving your operations is about finding efficiencies, which sometimes means automation where it makes the most sense.
Scenario 1: Parking permit application and distribution
Ask yourself these questions to help identify areas where things are efficient and areas where you might want to reduce the number of resources you need to manage them.
- Do you need multiple staff members at specific points in the year to manage this?
- Do you have a high level of one-on-one interactions with your customers?
- Are there paper records or applications?
- Are you using spreadsheets or dated software for record keeping?
- Do you mail permits to customers or do they visit the office to pick them up?
- Do you require management system software? this is a loaded question since it is imperative for an efficient operation
We recently worked with the Burlington International Airport to implement ParkAdmin. They’d identified some inefficiencies in their processes around parking management system software. Plus, they were having problems with how they supported and serviced their clients who worked irregular hours and couldn’t always visit the parking office which operated a M-F 9-5 schedule. In this case, automation with a product like ParkAdmin created a better parking management process for both problems. They used the OPS-COM database to manage their customer list, created a “self-serve” option for permit holders to apply for permits, and allowed temporary permits to be printed at home by customers until they were able to pick them up in the office.
In the case of BTV, they automated some, but not all processes. People still need to visit the office to pick up their permits, but it’s a smoother, more efficient process now through the use of parking management system software.
Scenario 2: Dispatching security teams
With process management for parking, documentation of all security incidents is mandatory. Handling documentation promptly is essential. However, nobody wants their team spending more time with the paperwork than in the field.
- Do you have a documented process for logging calls and prioritizing them?
- Are their time lags in your process that could compromise how quickly your team can respond?
- Is information available in real-time, so everyone has what they need when they need it?
- Are your dispatch records and logs easily cross-referenced or are they in two separate systems or formats?
- Are you relying on paper or dated systems for record keeping?
Keeping all the balls in the air is difficult for many security departments. You likely have heavy caseloads and demanding reporting requirements which are all critical to maintaining safety. Technology can help make the dispatch log reporting and tracking simpler, more efficient, and less cumbersome for staff. All of which leads to more productive operations.
Scenario 3: Managing violations and appeals
Process management for parking requires issuing parking violations as part of any parking operation. It’s also one of the areas that commonly becomes a source of frustration because it creates additional work for your team.
- Does your team manually manage appeals paperwork and do customers come to your office during the process?
- How much time does your team spend dealing with incorrect license plate numbers or spelling errors on tickets?
- Are you struggling to identify repeat offenders and scofflaws when on patrol?
- Do you end up sending past-due violations to a collections agency?
With the right violations solution, your patrol and office team have access to real-time data and automation options when issuing violations and managing appeals. As a result, you can see some real improvements in efficiency when you start to implement this kind of technology.
Violations and Technology
Consider the value of real-time data for your patrol teams. They can make informed decisions about each violation – perhaps issuing a warning to a long-term customer with no past violations, or requesting a tow or boot when identifying a scofflaw.
It’s also possible to limit the one-on-one interaction with customers appealing violations which makes better use of your team’s time. Systems like ParkAdmin give customers 24/7 online access to their violations where they can view ticket information and initiate an appeal or pay the fine. If you add LPR technology to your operations, you can also add photo documentation to help manage customer appeals. And with a clear photo of their parking infraction, you will likely receive fewer frivolous appeals from customers.
LPR technology can also almost eliminate errors with license plate numbers and give you patrol teams the option of virtual chalking when necessary.
Technology can also make it easier to track repeat offenders or customers with over-due violations or accounts so you can manage collections. As an example, Anderson University is using a ViolationAdmin custom report to share past-due violation information directly with finance who can then execute the collection process.
Scenario 4: Dated parking technology equipment
Just like the vehicles that are parking in your spaces, the older your parking equipment gets the less likely you are to be operating efficiently and with all the features you want. We often talk to parking managers about the decision to move from Pay and Display equipment to License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology and how the return on investment is a combination of equipment and resource cost savings.
- Do your Pay and Display machines have high resource demands for maintenance, servicing, and troubleshooting?
- How much time does your team spend troubleshooting equipment or responding to customer’s complaints about their function?
- Could you benefit from a better space/hour rate for your patrol teams? How do permits not appropriately displayed in vehicles affect the efficiency of your patrol teams?
- Do you currently collect data on the uses of your parking spaces?
- Do you deal with ongoing complaints from customers about Pay and Display machine placement?
Adopting LPR Technology:
Most parking management system operations who adopt LPR technology see immediate improvements in efficiency. A very straightforward example is the ability of a patrol team with a remote LPR camera for enforcement. They can patrol as many as 1,500 spaces per hour which is a considerable improvement over foot patrols checking dashes for permits. A vehicle isn’t necessary for the LPR technology, however. You can include LPR features on your patrol team hand-held units and still see a vast improvement in how quickly they can patrol.
Aside from the cameras which require some regular maintenance, an LPR system cuts down on the resources you need for equipment servicing, consumables like paper, and overall maintenance.
LPR technology also equips you with data that can help you make better decisions about how you manage your parking system. It can give you insight into how efficiently you’re using your spaces and can even help you identify opportunities to generate revenue.
If we can help answer any questions about how our technology has assisted our clients with their business process management, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to pass on some of the best practices we’ve seen.
How are you managing your security and parking system maintenance?
If you don’t give much thought to your security and parking system maintenance, you’re not alone.
A recent article in Campus Safety talked about their survey results around security camera maintenance. Over half of the respondents felt that their security cameras had “moderate to significant maintenance issues.” They found that many had concerns with their access card controls.
“The maintenance issue is much bigger than most of us realize. I suspect it’s a case of “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Also that hospitals, schools, and universities haven’t developed the systems and processes. These processes are needed to track when their security equipment requires updates or repairs.” the article says.
Security and Parking System Maintenance
When it comes to maintenance on your parking or security system, there are two broad areas to consider.
The first is the regular maintenance of hardware.
For License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras installed at a fixed location: Maintenance can range from checking if the camera is functioning correctly, to removing vegetation or obstructions that may impact the line of sight for the camera. LPR cameras fixed to vehicles need to be inspected on a regular basis. This ensures they are functioning correctly and not in need of repair.
If your patrol teams use handheld units, they should also be checked frequently to ensure they’re physically in good condition.
The second thing to consider is software maintenance. Software maintenance has its own demands, especially if your security or parking system is a mix of different software integrated with each other. You have to install patches for each, but you also need to consider how patching one impacts the integration with another software. You should work with your vendors to be sure updates don’t create problems. Install all patches or updates from software as soon as possible.
However, if you use a single-vendor system, you should be looking for regular updates that not only improve functionality but also keep your software secure. You have less to be concerned about with timing and compatibility. If your security or parking system is a “hosted solution” you don’t have to worry much about updates or patches because they can be pushed out to your system without any action from you.
You can work confidently knowing you’re running the most current version of the software. At OPS-COM, when we are preparing an update that affects vital workflows, we will often push the upgrade to a “preview” space first. This way, you and your team can test it and become familiar with it before we update your live system. We think it’s essential that new features unexpectedly appear to users.
Creating a Maintenance Schedule
Inspect most equipment or hardware at least annually, but also when something changes, that might impact its functionality. Check your security camera, for example, annually. Also, after any significant weather event that might have caused damage or changed the environment around its location. We recommend that our clients with LPR cameras check the wear of all cables every 12 months. Be aware of wiring when installing new devices in the area.
Install software updates or patches as soon as possible. Our software has several releases each year with updates to features or bug fixes. We work with our clients to be sure updates on all devices or systems shortly are functional after the release.
Perhaps you’re embarking on a full-scale parking master plan, or continually revising your plan year-to-year to accommodate changes and improvements. Understanding how to manage your lots and parking allocation planning is fundamental to the process.
A good parking plan is well rounded, and allows for both future planning and revenue growth. At the same time, it maximizes the existing potential in your operation in the most effective way possible. At the core of your strategy should be two main categories: parking lot planning and parking allocation planning.
Parking Lot Planning
First of all, in lot planning, you start with the basics. Define and document the physical locations of all the parking lots you have, the number of parking spaces available, and how much you charge users to park in these spots. You should also document the type (annual, semester, monthly, visitor, etc.) and number of permits you issue each year. This will help you determine the total number of permits you need and the range of permits needed for each lot.
It’s always wise to over estimate the number of required permits. A standard rule of thumb might be to increase your permit inventory by 20%. This does not mean that you will sell these permits, instead it creates a “space” or buffer in which additional permits can be added. In the case of lost or stolen permits, you may want to add a few more to the lot. Certainly in the case of overselling you will also want to have some room to add a few more permits.
Here’s an example.
We have three lots: lot “A” has 158 spaces, lot “B” has 223 spaces, and lot “C” has 54 spaces.
It would be easy to just number the permits 0-158 for lot “A”, 159-382 for lot “B” and 383-437 for lot “C”. That will, however, limit any future expansion or changes that might occur with your lot or number of parking spaces available. It is recommended that you add a buffer to each parking permit range for unforeseen changes or growth. Remember, permit numbers can be reused year after year depending on your parking management system, this lets you track the history of each permit over time.
There are many types of numbering plans available, this is only one suggestion that will allow for expansion and efficiency.
|Lot Name||Permit Range||System|
|# of Permit|
In this permit range we include a lot of extra numbers for any type of expansion. This example also adds an identifier for the permits, with permits in the 1000 range specific to lot “A”, the 2000 range for lot “B”, and 3000 range for lot “C”.
Expanding the Permit Range
There are many reasons for expansion that have nothing to do with the size of the lot. For example, a user may lose a permit and need to get a replacement. Another example is adding a new parking structure or permit category to an existing lot. Or perhaps you physically expand the lot to accommodate more spaces.
Having extra spaces in a virtual lot affects nothing, and is only good sense for future expansion.
Back to the example
We acquire additional space adjacent to Lot “C”, and increase the number of parking spaces by 100.
At the same time, we decide to add premium permits to Lot “A” which is 10 parking spots wide and 16 rows deep. As you can imagine, the walk from the last rows could take a while, and the front spaces are more desirable. Here is an opportunity to increase revenue by charging higher fees for the premium spots closer to the building. We make rows 1-5 premium parking spaces with 25% higher fees.
|Lot Name||Range Plan||System|
By moving 50 spaces from Lot “A” to the Lot “A Premium” we keep the 1000 range consistency for all Lot “A” permits. And, because we planned ahead, we easily added the 100 spaces to Lot “C”.
Parking Allocation Planning
A common question: “How does a parking manager decide to allocate permits to different user groups?”
With the use of virtual lots, it’s easy to subdivide a physical lot into sub lots for different user types. User types can be used to define who parks where in a lot and how much they pay. An individual lot can be configured to accommodate multiple user types depending on your operations,
You can define user types based on your specific operations. They might include annual or part time, students or staff for a campus, or other specific user groups. With user group definitions you can offer better customer service since allocations can be broken out by the expected use of each group.
Also, parking allocation planning includes defining when certain permits are available for sale and when yearly permits will rollover. The best way to understand time allocation is to think of it as a window of sales. For example, you may have time allocations set up to sell permits that are valid for an entire year, a semester, a month, etc.
Back to the example
We might decide to offer all of the Lot A Premium spaces to only a FT Staff user type. The reasons might vary and may be because the space is preferred, closer to the building, and higher priced. We could also create three “virtual lots” for Lot B. The first virtual lot is for annual permits only and makes up 125 of the 223 spaces. The remaining 98 spaces are the second virtual lot and are sold on a monthly basis with sales opening two weeks prior to the start of each month. The permits for the first two virtual lots are valid from 7 am to 6pm, with the third virtual lot making up temporary parking access for evening parking. The lot setup allows us to accommodate different user types and maintain a high level of demand for our permits.
ParkAdmin makes it easy to set up different user types, virtual lots, and assign permit ranges.
The Clery Act has particular requirements about what reporting is required and how crimes are categorized. In April of this year, the US Department of Education adjusted their civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for any penalties assessed after April 20, 2017, and whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015. The changes are meant to “provide the 2017 annual inflation adjustments to the initial “catch-up” adjustments” made in August of 2016. Furthermore, fines are now $54,789.
The Clery Act is not all about reporting incidents or statistics. There is much more to it including timely warnings and emergency notifications, and victims rights, opinions, and resources.
However, reporting requirements are an every-day reality for campus security departments. The Clery Act has particular requirements about required reporting and the categorization of crimes committed. A useful resource is the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting on the Clery Center website which outlines requirements. Consider for example that every institution must:
- Collect, classify and count crime reports and crime statistics.
- Publish an annual security report. This report must contain safety- and security-related policy statements and crime statistics. It must be distributed it to all current students and employees. Schools also must inform prospective students and employees about the availability of the report.
- Submit crime statistics to the Department. Each year in the fall you must participate in a Web-based data collection. This collection is to disclose crime statistics by type, location and year.
- If your institution maintains a campus police or security department, you must keep a daily crime log. This log is of alleged criminal incidents that are open to public inspection.
Data Collection Struggles
Each campus has its standard operating procedure and process around how to report and record safety incidents, and how their information stored. The amount of data, however, can be immense, especially given the need to incorporate data from other parties in your reporting requirements. Due to these requirements, organizations prefer a streamlined and simplified process. It requires fewer manual resources, leads to fewer data errors, and can be customized to meet the needs of your day-to-day operations to cover Clery Act reporting. For many organizations, this means moving from dated technology to a more comprehensive system. However, that move doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming.
Using Technology to Do Double Duty
Incident tracking and reporting for your operations can and should be part of your technology reporting to manage your security team. As a result, the process of documenting and dispatching as one continuous workflow makes for more efficient operations and Clery Act reporting.
For example, every reported incident logged into your incident management software with the required geographic information, time, and details for daily log reporting. The log entry triggers a series of automated events that allows your administrative team to initiate appropriate action, including dispatching security. A single system helps you manage your security team as well as collect and report data as needed.
What to Look for in Incident Management Software
Not all incident management software options are the same. Not all of them are suited to every campus or every type of operation. However, you should look for these functionalities to not only help make reporting more manageable, but also to create efficiency in your operations, and quickly see quickly pulled statistics when needed.
Comprehensive Database Features
This goes beyond logging and tracking incidents. You’ll also want an extensive database of vehicles and people of interest to support your team and campus security.
Flexible Custom Reporting
You will want the ability to create custom reporting from your incident management software. Creating custom reports based on criteria you specifically define will be significant.
Being able to prioritize incidents quickly, create notes for dispatch, and track officer activities will be essential. Including the need to dispatch a team following the identification of a vehicle or person of interest.
Visible Incident Tracking and Flagging
Another crucial aspect is visible incident tracking and flagging. Providing an accessible history of a specific incident for team members who require it or for reporting. Flagging lets you create flags for specific categories relevant to your individual needs
Case Load Management
A part of moving to a more comprehensive system includes giving your team a simplified way to manage their casework. Ensuring efficiency should be a priority.
Data and System Security
A system that offers features that prevent any tampering or alteration of information once it’s logged will maintain data integrity. You’ll also want permission levels that provide access information to only the appropriate people.
Cost Effectiveness and Return on Investment
While campus safety is the priority, you don’t need to secure a considerable budget to implement a highly effective incident management solution. Therefore, you can get yourself up and be running for under most RFP thresholds depending on your specific needs.
OPS-COM can help you make this easier. Contact us today for more information on IncidentAdmin and how it will tie in with enforcement and parking for your organization.
How common is parking permit fraud at your organization? Have you ever thought about the effect it has? It’s about more than just lost revenues. It is also about costs and controlling unused spaces. Your team has to find, ticket, and pursue these culprits while they remove parking spaces for drivers who pay. This can be frustrating for employees and customers.
Accessible Parking Permit Fraud
The illegal use of accessible parking permits is a high profile issue. In many municipalities, parking is available free for holders with accessible permits. This makes these permits valuable to have. False permits can be obtained legally and misused by others or obtained dishonestly from doctors. In some municipalities, this is a significant problem.
Statistics on Accessible Parking Permit Fraud
In 2013 in Toronto for example, 800 accessible parking permits were taken away from drivers because they were being misused. The most common form of misuse was by family members. A similar number were taken away in 2015. This created the need for a designated parking enforcement unit to address the permit abuse problem for the city. In February 2016, the City launched an “Abuse it and lose it” campaign to crack down on misuse.
In 2013, the Portland Bureau of Transportation surveyed the parking situation in the City’s downtown and Lloyd Center neighborhoods. They found over 1,000 cars with accessible parking permits in metered spaces parking free as per the City’s policy. It’s easy to understand why Portland needed to make changes. Especially when you consider that many of those cars parked in spaces for most of the day. Portland changed their parking practices to require everyone to pay for parking. With this change, their occurrences for accessible parking permits declined by 70%. This demonstrates that many permits were being misused in order to access free parking.
Statistics from 2014 for the State of California show they had 2.6 million accessible parking permit holders. This represents 9% of the State’s licensed drivers. UCLA students completed a study in Los Angeles. Results showed 44% of metered spaces were occupied by vehicles displaying fake parking permits. Also, those cars remained in their spaces approximately 70% longer than other drivers. Consider that Californina might see a loss of $100 in parking revenue for every fake permit. The State would have forgone about $210 million a year, assuming those drivers would have proper parking permits.
Campus Permit Fraud
Due to the significant improvements in digital imaging technology and do it yourself printing, there’s been an increase in permit fraud on University and College campuses. Some of the parking permit frauds are easy to spot, while others are more sophisticated. As a result, some fake permits appear to be very good replicas of issued permits.
In 2015-16, Grand Valley State University saw an increase in permit faking from a total of 9 to 18 identified in the first semester of the following year. Most of the abuse was by students. Another case was Conestoga College, who reported that 34 forged permits had been identified, which they anticipate cost almost $9,000 in lost parking fees. Most noteworthy was in January 2016, when Campus Enforcement and Patrol at Memorial University of Newfoundland reported an increase in fake permits. They identified 70 fake permits across their lots, from October to December.
Fake or forged permits can be easy for your best patrol teams to identify. Not every false permit can or will be found. Consequently, removing one does not prevent the driver from repeating the process again. Due to the high demand, there is a “market” for fraudulent or misused parking permits. 3rd parties obtain or create these parking permits and sell them. Municipalities have the similar issues. The misuse of legitimate permits. In conclusion, this can be difficult for patrol officers to identify.
As a result, there are different approaches that can help reduce permit fraud. Approaches can include; requiring frequent renewals for accessible permits, or a tough and controlled application process. Alternatively, as in the case of Portland, eliminating the benefits that drive misuse like free parking, will also remove the demand.
Solutions are available to analyze data in order to identify things like accessible permits going to out of state addresses or issued to deceased people. Systems can alert officials to many issues, such as medical providers issuing more permits than “normal”.
Permitless with License Plate Recognition
With License Plate Recognition technology, your organization does not require printed permits. LPR associates permits with a vehicle license plate number, which prevents parking permit fraud. There is no physical permit to replicate or alter. Using cameras mounted on patrol vehicles or at lot entrances can identify vehicles who don’t have valid permits. Invalid permits can have a variety of causes, such as; no permit, expired permit, or incorrect parking zone. Organizations who have installed an ALPR system have seen an increase in permit sales and compliance.
LPR has other benefits too, including less reliance on patrol officers to peer in the window of hundreds of vehicles every day. Drivers appreciate the easy online applications and removing the need for a permit in their vehicle. Parking operations see savings in printing costs and administrative hours dedicated to permit issuance and management as well.
Full disclosure before we get too far into this. OPS-COM offers a single-vendor parking security system for related management so we’re clearly biased when it comes to this topic. We believe the benefits of a single vendor far out way the potential drawbacks. But, we’ll try to be objective in this blog because ultimately, we want you to have the information you need to make good business decisions about how you manage your parking and security operations. We’d love to hear what you think.
Parking Security System
Your parking and security system is like any other part of the IT infrastructure that you rely on every day. Some of you may still be managing your processes with spreadsheets you’ve built yourself. However the clear majority of parking and security operations use one or more software applications from one or more vendors.
The parking security system you have in place may have been built in stages. Functionality from different vendors was added as your operational needs changed. For example, you started with a program that manages your clients or users, and then implemented parking online. You may have eventually adopted other features like incident tracking, pay by plate, or mobile parking. This scenario you could have as many as 5 different systems using the same information and data. As a result, managers must tie it all together for proper record keeping.
Other operations may have adopted and implemented the entire system at once. There is no right or wrong way to structure your parking and security system, but there are some advantages and disadvantages with how you approach your vendors and the potential to integrate multiple systems.
To clarify what we mean by a single vendor system, this is when you would source all the software components of your parking and security operations from a single company. That company could be providing you with more than one piece of software or module, but they are all products of the same company.
By contrast, a multi-vendor parking security system would suggest that your system is a mix of software or modules from different companies.
Simplified Vendor Relationships
While it might not seem like a relationship with software vendors is that important, it is. (At least we like to think it is with our clients). There are many different points at which you need to work with a vendor and sourcing all of your solutions from one simplifies and expedites the process. With a single vendor you eliminate the need to manage multiple contracts and service level agreements and instead gain a single point of contact for support teams for any technical or trouble shooting issues. You’ll need to manage these with either one or several vendors:
- Pricing and contract negotiations
- Contract renewals
- Service level agreements
- Installation, integration, and trouble shooting
- Technical support resources
We’re torn here and this is where it gets tough to remain unbiased because we think our solution is best in its class. However, generally speaking, a vendor who is highly specialized in a single niche area can often put more resources into building a solution and remain highly focused on specific technical improvements. This can come at a cost however as sometimes it means the solution is too narrow and doesn’t fit all possible clients – but not always. The parking and security industry is a niche in itself in many ways so there are many good solutions available from many different vendors.
You’ll most likely reduce the demands of your internal resources by working with a single vendor instead of multiple vendors. The training and demands to learn and become proficient on a single parking security system will be easier. All the modules from a single vendor will have similar functionality, layout, and user experiences so your team will find it easier to apply your specific business logic to become efficient with the system. By contrast, when you use several different products your team will have to grow comfortable with the features and operations of each independently and how they all tie together to get the outcome you are looking for. You’ll also find it less time consuming to have a single point of contact for support and trouble shooting.
Managing Patches, Updates, and Upgrades
Updates and patches for any software should always be installed as soon as possible. This ensures the parking security system operates as it should and you aren’t left vulnerable to security threats.
When you have multiple software applications operating together, a change to one can have a ripple effect on how the entire system works. While most vendors understand how their software is used in relation to other software in the industry, it’s still possible that your setup doesn’t respond well to an update or patch to one of the components. The more pieces you have the more likely you will need some trouble-shooting.
It’s also possible that you could receive an update today for one product and spend a day configuring it with the entire system, and then receive an update the next day from a different vendor and must repeat the entire process. With a single vendor, you’re likely to see less frequent, but more comprehensive updates to the system.
It’s also easier to adopt new features or applications from a single vendor. When they introduce a new product or service, it is built to work with the system you have in place. Bringing in a new product to a multi-vendor scenario often means you have to work through several integration processes to be sure the new product or service works, and won’t disrupt what you already have in place.
When you work with a single vendor and something goes wrong, you know exactly who to call. The support you receive will likely be more helpful because they understand your entire system and not just their individual piece. Problems that occur in multi-vendor scenarios are sometimes difficult to define and pinpoint the exact cause because of the layers of integration. A lot of time is spent going back and forth between vendors to troubleshoot the issue and identify it’s source. This could also result in higher SLA costs. The support team from one vendor likely won’t help you with problems with a product from another vendor, even if the issues are related.
In many instances, you will have more flexibility on how your system works and what it does with a multi-vendor system. While many vendors who offer a complete system will let you customize your package and define your features, building out your own system can offer more options. The multi-vendor scenario also lets your team look for non-traditional “add-ons” to integrate if you choose too. The caveat however is the more you add into the system, the more complicated it gets, and the more sophisticated your IT team will need to be to manage it. It also opens you up to more compatibility issues. If flexibility is important to you, these obstacles can be overcome.
Integration and Compatibility
A single vendor is developing all their components to work together. As a result, there are no snags that can cause delays or extra steps to integrate the systems. This ensures everything is consistent. It also means that you’re likely to get more features and processing speeds can be higher. Multiple-vendor systems can offer potential hiccups between products.
A single-vendor parking security system means you’re tied to a single company. The decisions they make, and the direction they take their development can all affect you. As a result, any large changes at their company can have an impact on their products or support services. This could include; management shifts, take-overs, or technical issues. If their priority for functionality is different than yours, you might be disappointed and find yourself having to either do without or replace your entire system. However, this is where the relationship with that vendor should come in. Your opinion should be important to them and they should keep you up to date on the direction they’re taking.
A parking security system from a single vendor is likely to cost less than creating a system from multiple vendors. Setup, licensing, training, service agreements, and other costs for each system add up when you are working with multiple vendors. First of all, a single vendor system will most often come with a single fee for the entire package. It usually works out to be less than if you were to purchase multiple systems from different vendors. Furthermore, you may have better bargaining power with a single vendor as they have a bigger interest in your business.
Parking enforcement ROI is an appealing prospect for many who manage parking. LPR parking enforcement offers opportunities for improved management with reduced long-term costs. It can also open up opportunities for improved revenue generation. While the technology is not new, many want to better understand the associated costs and the projected return on investment (ROI) for this technology.
As we start to talk to different gated garage and lot operators about our LPR module, we find conversations focusing on where the technology generates returns, and what they can expect for implementation and ongoing costs. What follows is a summation of some highlight for license plate recognition (LPR) parking enforcement.
What’s Your Goal?
We encourage parking managers to think about what their specific goals are for adopting LPR technology. Also considering, what they want to replace their existing system. Most often, we hear that their current systems are resource heavy, and frequently inefficient. Furthermore, they tend to require a lot of troubleshooting because they rely on manual processes which inevitably generates mistakes. We also hear, especially from municipalities, that there’s an ongoing struggle with public demands for better parking options and availability. While each parking operation is unique, most have similar issues and strive towards similar goals:
- A more efficient process that makes better use of resources
- Improved accuracy of permit management and violations
- Reduced costs
- Improvements to revenue
- Ease of use and implementation
- A better customer experience
- And of course! ROI
The LPR Parking Enforcement Investment
There are several things to consider when it comes to the costs of a LPR parking enforcement system. First and foremost is the hardware.
Whether you are using the system for a garage, lot, or mounting on a vehicle, you will require two cameras. The cost of the cameras and the associated LPR module will run approximately $26,000 for mobile and mounted lots. LPR cameras can be installed on most vehicles so a new vehicle would not be required should you already have one for enforcement.
LPR parking enforcement licensing costs
Most of the existing LPR operations have a network of integrations for cross-reference of data. Many parking departments that use LPR have one supplier that feeds information into a second supplier parking administration system. This can create some complications with communications, support response, and multiple annual licensing fees which will vary depending on the vendors. The various combinations of systems can range from $15,000.00 annually and up depending on the hardware options.
With OperationsCommander (OPS-COM), the LPR system is unique. Our license plate recognition module uses camera data and cross-references it within our permit and violation administration system offering data within one system to initiate the appropriate notifications quickly without complications. This reduces multiple licensing fees and reduces assessments from multiple vendors for support issues which alleviates any time trying to figure out whose issue it is before responding. This can be huge cost savings for organizations resulting in LPR ROI.
Most LPR parking enforcement installations come with a one time set up fee to cover camera mounting, proper lens placement, wiring and power to camera hardware. The fee also includes camera configuration or integration to pull data into the parking administration solutions depending on the nature of your setup.
Much like any new software, you will require some IT expertise in-house to support the system. While many offer support for their systems, like we do, it’s always a good idea to have someone in-house who can be a go-to technical person who understands the technology and the system as a whole.
You should also plan for training both when you bring the new system into your operations, and for any new employees who join your team. We also encourage all of our clients, regardless of the system they have in place, to emphasize employee training especially for cyber-security to protect their data from mistakes that could make them vulnerable to hackers.
LPR Parking Enforcement ROI
The return you’d see with an LPR parking enforcement implementation is a function of several things and will vary based on the system you’re replacing. However, there are some stand-out areas where LPR almost always generates improvements for a parking operation and guarantees License Plate Recognition ROI.
The first and most apparent return is a reduction in costs.
For gated lots or garages, gate hardware and its maintenance can often exceed the cost of the cameras that will replace them. While cameras also have ongoing maintenance costs, in most cases they are lower than for gates that have many moving parts and can sustain damage from vehicles
An LPR system allows you to find resource inefficiencies in your operation including a reduction in people-hours to patrol, identify violations, and for ticketing. In the case of a lot-mounted LPR camera, the system automatically notifies enforcement of fraudulent permits when entering the parking area. Enforcement officers are dispatched when needed and don’t need to patrol the area regularly for parking violations.
Patrolling with vehicle-mounted cameras requires far fewer enforcement staff hours than traditional patrols on foot and save a tremendous amount of money in payroll costs. An LPR camera can patrol more than 1,500 parking spaces per hour in most cases which is a more effective use of your enforcement staff and not needing enforcement staff for each of your parking areas.
Manual parking management systems are resource heavy. LPR technology replaces most of the manual processes with an automated system of data collection and notification. Here are just a few examples of how parking operations who use LPR technology can find efficiency and reduce costs for their administrative functions:
- Permit applications and issuance are done digitally, eliminating the need for lineups and manual processes
- Eliminates the need for printing and mailing tags or permit decals
- All staff have access to the most current data in real-time which means fewer mistakes
- An LPR system creates documentation (photos) that reduces the number of appeals, requiring fewer resources to manage
- Since LPR brings in more stringent parking compliance revenues will increase due to violations increases which will then increase permitting
Two things to consider about the accuracy of an LPR system are the accuracy of the camera’s read of license plates, and the accuracy of the data.
LPR cameras have been in use for decades, but they can’t always be relied on to read a license plate accurately. There are circumstances where a camera cannot accurately detect the plate because of a restricted or compromised view. Some examples where camera accuracy and effectiveness will come into question include:
- A damaged or bent plate that distorts or restricts the view;
- License plates mounted incorrectly or outside of the standard position;
- An object inhibiting a clear view of the plate such as a trailer hitch or the trailer itself; or
- A scenario where the plate is missing entirely.
The good news is, this is less of an issue with the technology. It is more of an issue of circumstance. The occasions of unreadable licenses plates will likely represent a small percentage of vehicles for most operations. The OPS-COM LPR module allows you to correct inaccurate reads manually to reduce inaccurate plate detection. When that plate is reread, the module is smart enough to adjust it automatically the next time, therefore reducing inaccuracies. Data collected by LPR systems is highly accurate and is a reliable source of information for both issuing violations and improving your parking management strategy. The reality is, cameras are less prone to errors than people are. This is especially the case for systems handling multiple points of data manually.
Enforcement and Compliance
LPR technology simplifies the process of identifying parking violations. It equips your team with the information they need to issue violations. Stationary cameras will automatically notify enforcement personnel and dispatch them to the location to issue a violation. Vehicle mounted cameras cover significantly more spaces per hour, expanding the total patrol area each day.
The use of LPR systems often creates more stringent parking compliance. Drivers quickly come to realize that they are more likely to be ticketed for parking illegally or past their time limit. They will choose to follow the rules. Pay-by-plate permit issuance also eliminates the opportunity to create fraudulent permits or misuse.
Data tracking and access
LPR systems don’t only track vehicle license plate and location information. They can also monitor parking space occupancy and length of occupancy. This information can have a significant impact on strategic decisions about the overall parking operations and how to most efficiently use your parking real-estate. We have highlighted several ways different Cities have put parking data to work to improve the parking situation for their constituents.
Data is most helpful if you have access to it when you need it. Data is collected and made available in real-time which means that enforcement staff have up-to-date information on the history of a vehicle and can better determine a course of action. It also means that office staff have updated information to handle customer inquiries, violation payments, and permit renewals. Your team spends less time tracking down information or correcting mistakes.
Moving to an LPR parking enforcement system does more than find inefficiencies in your operations. It is the right customer service solution. The removal of gates translates into better traffic flow in and out of parking zones and eliminates bottlenecks at entrances. Most users appreciate an easy online permit application process. There’s convenience with the pay-by-plate metering for non-permit spaces or Text2Park mobile payment options. Overall it creates a simpler and more flexible way for drivers to pay for parking. The improvements in parking compliance mean there are fewer fraudulent vehicles. This allows better access to parking for paying users. For many organizations, access to data about how drivers are using their parking spaces often leads to improvements in parking. LPR is usually a win-win for organizations and their users which guarantees License Plate Recognition ROI.
If you’re considering LPR technology for your parking operations, it’s an excellent first step to start putting pencil to paper. Determine where you can find cost savings or identify revenue opportunities.
Feel free to contact us, and we’ll help you define your goals and determine if LPR is a fit for your operations.
Most people wouldn’t think parking enforcement and the boot would be a form of customer service, but it is. Those who have outstanding violations may not think so. However, for the rest of us who follow the parking rules by merely finding a spot to pay and paying for it to keep parking accessible and fair. It is doing us a favor.
The Canadian Parking Association makes a good case for bringing discussions of parking enforcement out of the shadows. Typically, most parking departments avoid talking about ticketing, booting, and towing because it’s perceived as a “money grab” by the driving public or users. The CPA wants to encourage proactive communications to change the perception of enforcement officers from “ninjas” who look for opportunities to ticket vehicles to “ambassadors” who can help keep spaces available for paying drivers with parking technology.
The real function of parking enforcement is essentially customer service. It is about protecting parking spaces and capacity for people who are doing the right thing: purchasing parking permits, parking in the proper spaces, and respecting time limits.
Boot and Technology Paired at Carleton University
Carleton University equips their enforcement officers with real-time data, parking & enforcement technology as well as the boot to improve their services to on-campus users. At the 2016 Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) annual conference, Carleton University shared an overview of how they adopted booting in place of towing as the primary way to immobilize delinquent vehicles.
Carleton University Parking and Security Department policy is to boot vehicles with three or more outstanding violations. They use OPS-COM to make data available to their enforcement team in real time on an enforcement tablet. With access to the most current data, it is easier to identify vehicles with outstanding tickets or other violations to respond quickly without having to wait for the arrival of a tow truck. Their system also has back-end automation that sends the outstanding violation data to the user’s account receivables or payroll deductions for garnishments. An unknown or unregistered vehicle with multiple outstanding tickets will initiate action through a collection agency.
Moving to replace towing with the boot came down to cost-effectiveness. Not only saving on towing costs, but officers are also available to act on vehicles positioned in spots that prevented towing. The new process also helps capture information on the booted vehicle owner since they must present to Parking Services to arrange for its removal. It makes it easier to collect outstanding fines for any vehicle on campus. Especially is they were an unknown vehicle or user previously. Consequently, decreasing the need for collections.
Users on campus seem to have responded favorably to the boots on campus. More recently, Carleton told us that users appreciate that the cost to remove the boot is lower than the previous fees for towing and impounding
A campus-wide communication campaign notifies users of the new policy. In their CAUBO presentation, Carleton University shared that they initiated their communications campaign in October 2015. By January 2016, they’d received no complaints about the new booting practice. The parking administration has found the high visibility of the boot acts as a deterrent to some drivers. They haven’t had a big problem with people trying to remove the boot themselves to escape paying fines.
Real Time Data makes Booting Less Painful
With access to real-time data, like the team at Carleton University, enforcement officers have the most current information on scofflaws and other flagged vehicles. This can identify if a boot is warranted. When a driver finds a boot on their car, they must contact the parking administration staff. They have to pay their fines to have the boot removed. Parking administration staff also have access to the most current information. They know what is owing to outstanding fines, and the location of the vehicle. Therefore, they can send the officers to remove it or call a tow truck should the fines not be paid.
When vehicles register as permit holders with your parking authority, there is an opportunity to use their contact information to prevent placement of the boot in the first place. Arizona State University considered an option to notify the permit holder in advance of applying the boot and giving them time to resolve the issues before the boot is applied. There are also opportunities to notify owners in advance that they are approaching or have exceeded the outstanding violation amounts. This warning includes that when they identify their vehicle next, it will be booted. Vehicle owners can then choose to avoid those problems by paying their outstanding fines with the advanced warning.
Booting vs Towing for the Violator
There are some definite benefits for the driver to having a boot placed instead of their vehicle towed. Up front are the costs. Applying boot removal fees is less expensive than towing and compound charges. It’s also more convenient not to have your vehicle removed from the site. You must pay the violations immediately to have the boot removed quickly. As the experience at Carleton University, boots are highly visible, and pressure to avoid the situation acts as a deterrent.
Is the Barnacle the New Boot?
It doesn’t always have to be the boot. The Barnacle is a new alternative to the boot that claims to be lighter and easier to install. Launched in the summer of 2016, the Barnacle uses a pump and commercial grade suction cups to attach to the windshield of a vehicle. This makes it impossible to see and drive. Motorists who find themselves unlucky enough to see this on their vehicle need to contact authorities to pay their fines. They get a release code to remove it from their windshield. It has the potential to make the process easier and faster for both the violator and the enforcement officers. They no longer need to be present to remove it from the vehicle. Consequently, the driver is responsible for returning the unit.
Parking is Revenue Source
It is surprising that we have to remind clients that parking is a revenue source. Patrons understand that parking costs money. Those that park without valid permits usually understand that they are doing so.
Parking enforcement is customer service for valid parking patrons. The parking and security patrol staff are helping to keep violators out of parking areas to ensure that parking is available for those clients who have paid their money.
A boot is an excellent visual for anyone thinking about illegally parking since they can see that there is active enforcement on site.
So, parking is a revenue source which is supported by parking enforcement with is a client service mechanism which also generates revenue; a true win-win for your organization.
Find out how OperationsCommander can help with parking and security management.
Nobody likes to see spots in a permitted lot sitting empty as they circle looking for an available space. At least a “Garage full: monthly permit holders only” sign tells us someone is either using those spaces or paying for them.
By using a shared parking approach, parking authorities can eliminate the empty spots when demand for spaces exists.
Shared parking is the use of parking spaces by multiple groups who want those spaces during different days and times. It is most common in downtown and areas of mix-use development; however, it can be successful in other areas where density is high.
What is typical however is that the area has a demand for parking throughout the day and during most days of the week. A typical example is a downtown office space with underground parking that is used by employees during the day, movie and restaurant patrons in the evening, and downtown shoppers on the weekend.
In some cases parking can be technically oversold, and in these cases the thought is that vehicles (and owners) will ebb and flow throughout the day. Even in the case of an office environment, not everyone will be at work every day and those that are may be ride sharing or taking another form of transportation. Some organizations will actually do spot checks now and again to determine the amount of overselling that would be supported during different times of the year.
In this case, the discussion is more about shared parking, but the concept is the same.
It can be complicated but doesn’t have to be
There are many shared parking scenarios with multiple combinations of public and private groups. The Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network convening findings in the spring defined some common models for shared parking that can involve both the private and public sector:
- Facilities are available to the public always
- Facilities are usually open to the public, but enough capacity is reserved to ensure space for monthly permit holders
- Spaces are rented to the public only when the businesses in the building close.
- Spaces are rented to the public only on a long-term basis (e.g., month-to-month), to minimize security concerns about access to locked garages
However, it can be as simple as one building owner with parking space capacity renting those spaces to another business when they would otherwise be empty. That scenario, in fact, can be a profitable one.
Profit from shared parking
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) provides a great example of a shared parking scenario and how the numbers can translate into profit.
In their example, an office building has 120 surface parking spaces, 100 used by their employees and the remaining designated for visitors. By negotiating the use of the surface parking spaces to nearby businesses, in this example, a restaurant and a church, the building owner can add $15,000 per year in revenue.
A commercial parking operator factors into the plan for evenings and weekends for an estimated $10,000 in annual revenue. The example also explores the impact of reducing parking spot demand of the building employees through a space-share program. Leasing the freed-up spaces to a nearby business can add $20,000 in revenue.
The report goes on to expand the scenario. However, the example is clear that parking spaces in high demand can offer opportunities for revenue generation and a reduction in traffic congestion.
|Annual rent for the building||$900,000||$1,000,000||$100,000|
|Restaurant negotiates 20 spaces for use by staff in evenings and weekends at $50/month/space||$2,000||$12,000||$110,000|
|Church rents 50 spaces for Sunday mornings at $500/month||$1,000||$6,000||$115,000|
|Commercial parking operator rents unused spaces to the public during evenings and weekends||–||$10,000||$125,000|
|Building manager initiates a shared-space program for employees, reducing the demand for 80 spaces for employees, and offering a $40/month cash-out option for those who opt-in. Freed spaces rent to a nearby business for $80/month||$12,000||$32,000||$145,000|
Where this works best
While this example creates a straight-forward approach to shared parking, not all businesses with surface parking are ideal candidates. These scenarios are limited to areas where the parking is in demand and space is at a premium. It also requires that the different user groups in the area have different requirements for parking.
A typical scenario would have weekday users like banks, offices, schools, factories. They would mix with evening demand businesses like restaurants, pubs, event facilities, and theaters. Weekend demand comes from parks, churches, shopping centers, and events.
The impact on parking supply
VTPI suggests that a shared parking approach can reduce the amount of parking required at a destination by between 10 and 30%. The graph below shows how parking requirements decrease under a shared supply scenario. This is using residential, office, and restaurant demand in each area.
Demand for parking varies from each group throughout the day, making up different proportions of the parking requirements. However, the overall demand for spaces declines under the shared parking model.
The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) claims shared parking can go even further and reduce supply requirements by as much as 20-40%. However, the scenarios they describe requires fully public accessible parking. This means no private or reserved spaces and the elimination of free parking.
ITDP explain a scenario in a mixed-use district where demand for spaces would vary by time of day between residential, office, shopping, and community facility demands. Their model of shared parking would require a city-wide approach including zoning reviews, parking usage reviews, and a shift “away from trying to satisfy all parking demands by increasing parking supply.”
This model is most successful when the City adopts a culture of alternative transportation including public transit, cycling, and walking.
Other shared parking opportunities
Un-bundling parking can also offer opportunities for creating shared parking scenarios. For example, a condominium development has a minimum parking requirement of two spaces per unit. They might consider un-bundling the cost of the parking spaces to the condo owner. A condo owner pays less for a unit with one space instead of two. The developer rents the space to the public or a nearby business.
In neighborhoods with residential permitting, understanding the occupancy rates during daytime can allow municipalities to issue daytime permits to non-residents who work in the area. In this example, residents could park free, and the fee for non-resident permits set at a rate that maintains a desired 15% vacancy.
Municipalities could allow for the leasing of shared spaces to help satisfy the minimum parking requirements for new development. These are early-stage decisions of development to help support more cost-effective infill opportunities.
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