|Green, Guidance, and Info Galore
|May 20, 2011
|A preview of the 2011 IPI Conference & Expo|
|By John Van Horn|
Parking exhibitions bring together the companies that create the new technologies and the people who will use them. The largest parking only event on the planet is being held in Pittsburgh the last week in May. I attend these events to learn and to promote Parking Today. About 1500 people will attend the exhibition that is sponsored by the International Parking Institute.
Editors are often asked what is to come. Based on three decades of exposure to the parking business, what does the industry have in store? What new technology will come down the pike and enable parking professionals to better do their jobs, and make parking easier for the drivers who pay the bills.
I'll give my thoughts, and then follow up next week after the show to see whether my dinner will be pheasant or crow.
The general theme of the show will be "green." I would expect virtually every booth to feature sustainable products or services. Although sustainable products are admirable, and being good stewards of the earth is important to us all, many of the exhibitors are spinning their products to provide a "sustainable" reason for people to buy them.
AVI is a good example. The concept of automatic vehicle identification has been around for years. The products are good and work well. A year or so back a couple of companies noticed that since AVI speeds up entrance and exit to a garage, the "dwell" times of cars in the lanes is greatly reduced, and thus the amount of pollution spewed into the atmosphere. Admirable, but no change in the product made it "green." It was simply how it was perceived.
Virtually every lighting supplier will be talking about replacing your lighting system and saving the planet. This is very real. Many new products including LED and induction lighting have come a long way and greatly reduce power consumption, and a garage's costs.
Most of the revenue control manufacturers will be promoting ways that garage owners can charge EV drivers for electricity. It's a great idea if you own an EV. Drive in, pull a ticket. Plug in your car, insert your ticket, then when you leave, you will be charged for your parking AND your volts, or amps, or kwh.
Sustainable design will be stressed. Architects and consultants will be talking about designs that make garages more ecofriendly. Whether its roofs covered with plants or photoelectric arrays or construction materials recycled from older buildings, garages today take on a different look and feel.
Technology will stress parking guidance. We will see ways to find a parking space in a garage with lights and arrows, ways to find our car after we have parked, and ways to reserve parking spaces in garages before we leave from home.
Companies will be showing us equipment that will allow cities to tell you through the internet and over your smart phone just where parking is available, and a number of companies will boast web sites where you can pick the least expensive parking space near your destination, and if you like, reserve a space at the same time.
Payment options will be in every booth that even hints at revenue collection. Credit cards, debit cards, pay by cell phone, pay by coin, cash, any way you want. And why not, the technology is here. Parking should use it.
There will be extremely fancy software engines that allow owners and operators to slice and dice information a jillion different ways to enable them to get a handle on their multimillion dollar businesses.
The internet will be in every booth. Think of it as a really high tech phone system connecting every component in every garage in the land. Each gate, dispenser, cash machine, has an IP address and you can sit on the beach in Marbella and run your garage from there. (OK this isn't new, but the flexibility it allows will be stressed in presentation after presentation.)
Manufacturers use these events to launch their newest, latest and greatest. I suggest attendees take the time to learn about the products and how they fit into their particular application. No need to buy something you will never use, "just cuz" you can. Engineers provide many features that have been requested by customers, but they all aren't needed in every garage. The more complex, the more potential there is for possible problems down the road.
There will be a number of companies present whose pitch is that they will help you through the maze of new technology. They will use their experience with many different vendors to help you know what questions to ask, and what answers to fear. The more complicated the project, the bigger the need for such help.
I'll get back to you next week and let you know what I actually saw. Hopefully the crows are safe for another year.
John Van Horn filed this content through a partnership with Xerox. The content shared is the author's opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Xerox. The Focus: Real Business, Real Opinion posts are designed to spark open discussion on a variety of trending industry topics.
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