So what happens when a parking service grows organically over many years and loses sight of what they are meant to be there to do, what results they are meant to provide and who they are meant to serve?
This is an interesting group of questions because a lot of smaller, provincial size Council's or city's operations have grown up organically and not really understood why they are there now and what they are supposed to be providing for the town.
Blog readers will have understood my dismay at the New Zealand Parking Association conference this year, where every single session was an enforcement session. Not a single session looking to offer education on parking operations. This example and the article below in the Manawatu Standard (central North Island of NZ), clearly start to show a picture of cause and effect. If no one in Council understands the questions above, then enforcement is merely an unguided activity due to annoy everyone and serve no one.
I do suspect that there are a lot of these types of organically grown organisations around the world now, as modern parking technologies clash with old school enforcement models. My wish here is that Councils and cities recognise that this might refer to them and that they seek the help that is available through education or through consultants. If they don't, I believe they will eventually fall to pressure from retailers and the public, to find a solution fast, and will end up with a system that serves no one.
Parking systems must be created by design, especially with modern parking technology, as new technology exposes a lack of modern parking methodologies being employed, as in Manawatu. The first step is to understand why you have parking in the first place, adding modern parking methodologies and a suitable technology mix to match those methodologies and then tailoring the enforcement programme around that. Let me show you;
1. Why have Parking? - To help support economic activity and its benefits.
2. How does it do that? - By increasing parking utilisation and efficiencies.
3. How do you increase utilisation of the resource? - By using a modern technology mix and modern parking methodologies.
Steps 1, 2 and 3 are all about parking operations, not enforcement. Parking enforcement is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, so to speak, and the level of enforcement is a result of the level of mis-match between the two. We need a good efficient enforcement team and their model must support parking operations, but it should not run parking. That’s cart before the horse stuff.
Parking utilisation is having every single car park used as much as possible and as long as possible. This is the getting the right amount of cars in the right amount of spaces. Congestion, circulating, queuing, rage incidents, property damage and conversely vacancies are two sides of the same coin, inefficient operations. Most of the towns and cities talked about here have these symptoms.
To improve utilisation you must have the right mix of technologies to suit the chosen methodology, that is technology that allows you to micro-manage your parking to target the local activity. Organic systems don’t fit here and must be improved to deliver what the city or town demands, being improved economic activity, support for local businesses and an efficiently run parking system, with parking enforcement concentrating on behaviour change.Frog Parking is world class technology and it seems a shame to have it maligned by attaching it to an organically grown system.
Don Sandbrook, CEO Frog Parking
Please note: Views expressed in this blog are personal.