A smart city fosters synergistic relationships among people, infrastructure, and technology, enabling it to operate as efficiently as possible. This is a rapidly growing trend, and as more and more cities, townships, universities, and other organizations are adopting this model, it should be no surprise that smart cities and the future of parking were the main topics covered at the 2017 International Parking Institute (IPI) Conference and Expo in New Orleans.
While at IPI, the gtechna team interviewed parking professionals on how they thought the future of parking fit into this idea of a smart city, and we also had a discussion with our CTO, Sergio
Mastronardi. Now overseeing technology product development and new innovation for gtechna, Sergio is also the co-founder.
Sergio has many thoughts on parking and smart cities, and he offered great insights on what the future holds. Here’s a transcript of that conversation.
Have you been following the smart cities trend?
I have to. Coming to these shows – talking to our customers and competitors – I need to know exactly what’s going on out there. We are definitely following the smart city transition and pushing to automate as much as possible.
How would you define a smart city?
A smart city has to automate every process that’s available. It should increase efficiency with any manual tasks—like any forms to fill out or any type of communication that is still done through a manual phone. These processes can be automated through software, applications, SMS, or emails. These are some of the initiatives that we believe make a smart city.
How do you see parking evolving to be further integrated with existing parking tech?
Most young people, even my girls, are stuck to their phones. They depend on their applications for getting around and even finding parking, so they use Google Maps anytime they’re driving, especially in a new city. So parking a car should be fully integrated with Google and other applications. Cities will have to adopt this, as will Apple and Android, as these apps are already being used with the younger generations and, of course, older generations ready to adopt.
What are some recent trends that you have taken note of in the evolution of parking?
We are noticing agencies are investing in sensors; they are investing in license plate recognition cameras. There is also a demand to electronically send a parking ticket, which is interesting. A lot of cities have by-laws where tickets must be left on the windshield, but I have a feeling there is a trend trying to pick up on email parking tickets—which is really good news for us.
Do you have any predictions for the future of parking?
I’m hoping that in the next five to 10 years, if the cities collaborate, we will stop issuing parking tickets on the windshield. We want to send them through email form because customers want the electronic data on the ticket. They want to be able to pay as soon as they get that information and make it easy. Instead, today they have to type in the plate, type the ticket number, and maybe if they’ve lost that parking ticket, they’ve got to go and look for it with the city. Email would be the best way for them to take care of that citation as fast as possible, reducing headaches for them and increasing compliance for the cities.