By: Michael Drow, CAPP, SVP, Sales & Corporate Development
Originally published in The Municipal, September 2019.
As recently as several years ago, managing the curb meant ensuring parking rules were followed, bus stops were clear for your mass transit system and delivery trucks were in the proper loading and unloading zone. A municipal agency only had to coordinate with the transit agency on bus schedules; decide on parking fees and times; and coordinate with the police or the parking enforcement to ensure the rules were followed.
With the growth of ride-sharing services, bike-sharing, scooters, Amazon Prime delivery and food delivery services, among other things, the demand for the curb has exploded. In addition, many municipalities have been working to implement more sustainable alternative transportation options with the introduction of mass transit, bus lanes and bike lanes. This has created the need for tools and policies to better manage and allocate use of a valuable municipal asset — the curb.
Curbside management is the collection of operating concepts, techniques and practices that enable a municipality, university or any other entity to effectively allocate the use of their curbs and other high demand areas to users. A typical curb management program will contain the following components:
1. Allocate use
2. Integrate fragmented data
3. Monitor use and enforce the curb
4. Report and analyze
This is where solution providers like T2 Systems excel and provide the tools and technology to allow a municipality to better manage and allocate the use of its valuable curb. T2 Systems has been delivering parking enforcement and management tools for over 25 years to over 1,500 North American clients. We are leveraging our expertise in monitoring and enforcement solutions to support municipalities as they implement their own curb management programs.
Through our T2 Flex solutions and monitoring technologies, municipalities are able to:
No. 1: Allocate Use
A curb management program first needs to allocate access to the various users. This is accomplished with the distribution of permits. A permit is not necessarily a physical credential; it is when an entity grants access to a specific curb — or area — at a specific time of day for a specific use and collects a fee as appropriate. Sometimes this is done through a permit issuance process, such as selling a hangtag or virtual credential, or the allocation may be managed with an on-demand transaction capability, similar to a meter in an on-street operation or a parking reservation that a customer can purchase in advance of their needed use.
The need to future-proof regulations is key, especially regarding how payments could be collected. For example, FedEx may have a permit to park in a loading zone, but it pays a fee for each curb interaction. This could be done in real time with a parking app, auto-billing through license plate recognition or directly from FedEx technology. Loading zones could be priced based on time of day or location.
As an entity’s curb program expands, it will migrate from static allocation methods to more dynamic ones, where a system is monitoring the current availability on the curb and demand for access from various users, and reallocates access to users to achieve the entity’s objectives. The rise of virtual credentials, license plate recognition systems, RFID capabilities and other means to identify users, along with electronic and mobile payments, will make it easier for a curb management program to allocate access to the curb on a variable basis.
A curb management program must allocate access to the various users, granting access to a specific areas at a specific time of day for a specific use and collects a fee as appropriate — something T2 Flex accomplishes.
No. 2: Integrating Fragmented Data
A curb management program needs the ability to share data with its users to communicate status of activity — i.e., delivery truck location and status, Uber/Lyft driver activity, mobile payment activity, etc. — share information about changes to the curb — i.e. construction — and confirm access permissions. In addition to the users, there will be many third-party partners with data that is valuable to managing the curb program, such as weather, construction status, mass transit real-time status and traffic flow information. This type of information will allow a curb management program to optimize and adjust its allocation of access to the users based on changing conditions.
T2 has built its solution on the premise that sharing data between systems is critical to properly managing an operation. Our solutions and solution partners integrate hundreds of relevant data sources and partners.
No. 3: Monitor Use and Enforce the Curb
The well-known management axiom “what gets measured gets managed” holds true for curb management programs as well.
Once a curb management program has allocated access to various users, it needs to monitor activity to ensure the program is operating effectively and rules are enforced. T2 has multiple technology partners to monitor activity, including license plate recognition systems, AVI readers, barcode scanners, video analytic solutions and more. We have the ability to identify the appropriate technology to implement in order to monitor your operations. Our enforcement tools have been in use for over 25 years to issue citations, ensuring that users are not abusing the use of your asset. Our solutions include tools that allow a municipality to see where violations are actively occurring and decide if a physical or electronic citation or warning should be issued. We also have an in-house citations department to manage the collection of your citations.
T2 Analytics enables municipalities to track and analyze their data, such as the number of citations issued, citations issued growth, total citation amount issued and more.
No. 4: Report and Analyze the Data
As parking and mobility professionals know, the amount of data available to manage an operation is growing in leaps and bounds. The biggest challenge is being able to collect the data, analyze the data and make decisions from it that improve operational performance. An effective curb management program requires the ability to collect data from many different sources, not all of which are in the control of the parking and mobility professional. Our T2 Analytics tools provide you with the capability to understand your data and answer the questions you have versus relying on a standard report.
In summary, when developing a curb management program to manage a street face, a hotel driveway, an airport garage or roadway, an event site or even a downtown parking facility, municipalities should implement tools to allocate access, monitor use, collect fees and enforce the program, then look at the data and results and adjust to achieve the curb management program’s objectives.