By John Van Horn, Editor of Parking Today
“The consumer should and will drive the industry. Of course, we need to create systems to help parking operators manage their facilities more effectively. The useful systems will react to the consumer, making the parking experience seamless and easy. It’s not the price; it’s going to be the service, and our technology needs to help operating teams deliver the service.”
T2 Systems CEO Adam Blake, one year into his executive position, sat down with Parking Today and talked about his company, the need for interconnection, and the future of the industry. No matter what the topic, Blake seemed to bring the conversation back to the “end-consumer.” (T2, the largest parking technology provider in North America, purchased ParkingSoft, a PARC systems provider in July 2017.)
“Parking will be around in the next decades, but it will change,” Blake said. “There will still be traffic, congestion; there will still be rush hours; and all those vehicles must go somewhere. It goes back to the consumer: They will make different choices as they have more information and options.
“I love change. It’s such an exciting time to be in parking. ‘Connected’ consumers will change so much for the parking world. To support future parking operations, we are building an ecosystem of partners – we can’t build everything here. The successful companies will have integrations between systems and share data. We need to work as a technology provider and as an integrator.
“We continue to work with partners to bring successful technology to the market. I believe in ‘open’ systems. Compete, but compete on your merits,” he said. “As an industry, we must develop systems that give choices to the parking operations and the consumer. Open systems do that.”
Blake talked about his personal experience in his home city of Indianapolis. He noted that he has no problem driving to work, and that a self-driving vehicle would solve no problems for him.
“Sure, if I wanted to have an autonomous car drive me to Florida, while I hang out with the family along the ride, then having an autonomous vehicle would be great. But around here, not so much.”
It’s all about solving problems, he said. If it doesn’t solve a problem, it isn’t going to fly.
“We need a software-led hardware-enabled approach; each parking operation will make the choice that is best for their operations. Some will want to use existing equipment; some will want to go online and reserve and pay. There are so many options from which to choose.
Connected consumers will change so much for the parking world.
“In the end, consumers will drive what the parking industry will look like, and we are focused on providing solutions to the parking operators to enable choice.
“Consumers are not downloading apps like they used to,” Blake said. “In retail, everyone had their own app – but it didn’t solve problems. There simply isn’t enough space in a mobile phone to hold all of the apps.
Downloading apps and remembering apps and which one to use, consumers aren’t buying it. But if you can deliver a seamless user experience – that enables you to solve multiple payment issues at one go. That is power.
“EMV and the conversion to chip cards and all the security issues that go with it have disrupted the payment methods and slowed the change that is taking place. People are carrying the solution in their hands. Just how easy it will be to use will come from the Apples and Googles of the world that are enabling these mobile devices.
“Take pay-by-cell. If you are someone who uses on-street parking on a regular basis, then, yes, pay-by-cell is for you. But if you are travelling to a distant city, it’s inconvenient to download an app while at the curb, sign up for an account and enter your data. Think how elegant it would be if you could pay all types of parking with your Apple Pay or Android Pay or ‘Name’ or ‘Bank’ Pay.
“I’m a data guy,” Blake said. “We look at so much data on a daily basis, but it must be ‘actionable’ data. What are you going to do about it? This is where systems come into play.
“Take dynamic pricing; data will drive it. As for ‘smart cities,’ the problem won’t be collecting the data; it will be making it something we can use and interpret. And we will. We are going to chip away at the problems by making the data actionable.
“One thing that ‘smart parking’ can help in the smart cities arena concerns passenger drop-off issues and ride-sharing. They are going to be big. Uber and Lyft are here to stay, so we need the data to understand when drop-off issues become congestion issues. We can use the data to make a difference.
“The future? I don’t have a crystal ball,” Blake said, “but my hope is that we provide integrated systems for parking operators to satisfy the needs of the end-consumer, so the end-consumers can have seamless journeys."
“Change is going to happen, and to be a part of it, we must be a solutions company. We must work with strategic partners.
“The big change will be in how payments are collected. We must offer different methods for operating and collecting payments,” Blake said. “The consumers will choose the best method for themselves.
“Parking will still have access control, collect occupancy data, have dynamic rates, and be able to accept payment. That won’t change. How it will be done will change. The ‘connected’ car will go a long way to make it seamless for the consumer.
“I don’t see a single technology affecting us in the future, but a series of solutions that will give consumers choices,” Blake said. “There is obviously a requirement to provide a parking operator the tools to run their operations, but consumers need choices.”
This article is from the November 2017 edition of Parking Today.