Smart Parking Solves Challenges In Cities

Smart Cities Insider interviewed David Cummins. David is Senior Vice President of Parking and Mobility Solutions for Xerox. He is a seasoned expert in smart parking solutions. We were talking about current challenges in cities and the future of parking.

How does smart parking look like in the future? 

David Cummins: Smart Parking systems look very different in the future. I think in 15 years from now cities won’t have any parking meters. People will pay for parking with their mobile phone and secondly the car itself will pay for parking.

You will have an account and the connected cars in the future will communicate with the infrastructure showing where it is parked and for how long. Like your phone bill, you will get at the end of a month a bill showing all parking transactions that were competed.

The parking meters will probably last another 5 years and then cities will do another procurement of replacing those parking meters. Those new parking meters will last about another 7 years, that’s usually the useful life of a parking meter. So, 12 to 15 years from now there won’t be the need for another procurement. Payments will be made by cell or the vehicles will pay themselves from that point.

Which are the common challenges cities face due to the old way of doing parking business? 

David Cummins: The old way of doing parking was, you had coin machines, you had people searching around for open parking spaces, trying to figure out if they actually had enough coins in the car to pay for parking.

On the city side, cities would mostly keep the same rates for decades. Parking on-street at the meters was often cheaper than parking off-street in the garages, which should be reversed. Generally, you want people to pay a premium to park on-street in front of the store they want to shop at. You also want the people that work at the store to park at the long-term garage.

Then, new technology came around that enabled you to pay with a credit card or your mobile phone. Now the cities are able to adjust their parking rates to what the market could bear. I think the cities are still not up to what the market can bear, but at least it is higher than it used to be.

How much cost reduction on average can a city expect by using smart parking solutions? 

David Cummins: A good deal of money goes to credit card processing fees. Also, municipalities pay a good deal of money in labor to people who collect coins from the meters and to maintain the parking meters. These are the operating expenses. On the capital expenditure side the cities pay for the installation of new meters.

We are talking literally millions and tens of millions of dollars saved, depending on the size of the city. A smart parking solution would be a world without parking meters where the citizen bears the cost of the credit card fees. The cost of collecting coins and having hardware on the street will not be there anymore.

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