18 Apr 2017
When people talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), they’re talking about a fully-integrated system of electronic devices, appliances, and other machines that can communicate with one another independent of user intervention. Though the full revolution has only just begun, you won’t have to look far to find examples of this technology already in use in your daily life. Think about how your smartwatch knows when your smartphone rings, or how sensors signal to a traffic light that your car is waiting for it to change.
As you might imagine, the parking enforcement industry has invested heavily in this new technology, and is putting it to great use. It’s not enough to just have the systems at one’s disposal, though: intelligent system-wide integration is crucial. Understanding not just the capabilities of this new technology but also how it fits together will be key to making sure this industry-changing revolution goes off without a hitch.
The interfaces themselves, no matter how powerful, are simply tools parking managers use to operate a more efficient system. Before you worry about getting in on the Internet of Things with your parking enforcement system, you need to know how having parking rights in the cloud and real-time communication can elevate the technology that brings your parking system into the future.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS PUTS PARKING RIGHTS IN THE CLOUD
With earlier analog systems like gates and ticket spitters or streetside parking meters, parking rights were displayed in a vehicle’s immediate vicinity. A parker would put a receipt on the dash before leaving their car, or she would feed a meter assigned to the space in which she parked, or she would not be able to leave the garage without paying a fare that lifted a gate. What these methods allowed for in expediency and momentary convenience, they gave up in compliance guarantees and enforcement efficiency. In other words, people could beat these older methods: the meters, if no parking enforcement officers were around; surface lots, by being fast and/or using emergency flashers to signal that they are dropping off someone; and a parking garage, by claiming to have made a mistake or having a partner lift an unsupervised arm.
Keeping parking rights on a cloud-storage database to which every machine in a system sends rights data, and from which every enforcement officer can query that same rights data, is a much more comprehensive and efficient way to do it. Machine-to-machine communication allows for a seamless transmission of information among every aspect of the parking enforcement web, allowing parkers an opportunity to easily pay their fare and go about their business free of concern about inaccurate tickets; parking enforcement officers, on their end, can find the proper information about a vehicle on a moment’s notice, and take the necessary actions with respect to it.
None of that would be possible without the new frontiers opened up by the Internet of Things. As individual systems become more advanced, vigilance and compliance both become easier to manage, to the benefit of everyone who uses a municipality’s parking system.
REAL TIME COMMUNICATION POWERS THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Of course, the accuracy of tickets is a real and important issue. No one likes the idea of signing up for a machine-based enforcement system that routinely makes errors and confuses parking rights information. That was the joy of the old analog days, such as they were: in the instance that a parker felt they had been ticketed unfairly, they could gather evidence in the form of the ticket they had printed or a picture taken and present it in their defense to get an incorrect ticket voided. On the enforcement side, the process of countering these ticket challenges was time-consuming, inefficient, and potentially expensive.
Real-time communication all but removes the threat of inaccurate tickets, which correspondingly lowers the threat of challenges. Several built-in fail-safes on both sides of the equation protect not just parkers from unfair ticketing, but parking enforcement officers from being pulled away from their regular duties to defend their actions. The smartphone devices enforcement officers use can communicate in real-time with pay by phone and kiosk users automatically running final checks on license plate numbers to see if any last-second top-offs were made to a parking session. Pay stations also now intelligently communicate with enforcement systems, so that when a kiosk is down or information is being transmitted slower than normal, the information is instantly communicated to enforcement devices.
As with the cloud-based parking rights database, these fail-safes would simply not be possible without the technology on which the Internet of Things is based. We are no longer forced to deal with inadequate enforcement mechanisms, which means municipalities can generate more revenue and citizens and visitors can trust these new systems more than ever before.
A NEW DAY IN PARKING SYSTEM MANAGEMENT
Machine-to-machine communication is a beautiful thing, and it’s transforming the parking enforcement industry before our very eyes. With the new technology available to enforcement officers and parkers alike, there’s no longer any reason for people to put up with rampant inefficiencies and inaccuracies when it comes to purchasing and enforcing parking rights. As this technology develops, things will get easier and easier for everyone involved. The Internet of Things has taken parking enforcement to the next level, and it’s only going to get better from here.