3rd POLIS-EPA webinar: Parking goes digital!

POLIS, the European Parking Association (EPA) and PARK4SUMP convened to discuss digitalization and the parking eco-system. Here is all you need to know about the webinar!

Think you know parking? Think again! From electric vehicles to shared mobility services and multi-modal transit hubs, our urban transport landscape is transforming rapidly, driven by new technologies, fuels and public-private partnerships.

Parking has been at the helm of this revolution as integrated payment systems, digitalised permits, autonomous surveillance infrastructure and new routing services have facilitated and enriched new and sustainable modal offerings.

But how can we ensure momentum continues? As air quality and modal shift targets loom large, never before has the need for a more flexible curbside been so imperative; and parking will play a critical role in this.

To explore the way forward, POLIS, EPA and PARK4SUMP convened for the 3rd installment of their joint webinar series to discuss the digital technologies and data management solutions which are transforming on-street parking.

View the full recording HERE

With a packed agenda and over 250 registrants, this webinar traversed the web of applied digital solutions that are enabling integrated management solutions. We heard from industry leaders, non-profit sector organisations and local authorities to understand the concepts and technologies propelling recent developments in parking management.

“We are here to understand the immense capacity for technology to improve our parking landscape. We are seeing a convergence of previously isolated aspects of parking management,” said Nigel Williams, of Parking Matters, introducing the webinar.


What is the future of parking: Looking into the crystal ball

New technologies, as well as Covid-19, have accelerated digitalisation trends in parking.

“It is surprising how many people still struggle with parking services, it is a big challenge to make it as connected and accessible as possible- but there are a range of exciting opportunities” said Thomas Pühringer from Ski Data.

EV-charging facilities, contactless payments and routing have seen dramatic improvements, and Pühringer predicted that these would soon become the mainstay of parking operations.

Technology is at this point now!” he asserted.

However, he emphasised the necessity to continue to offer a good balance of digital payment and booking options and ‘old-world’ means during this transition phase to ensure parking is as accessible as possible.

He stressed the need to integrate digital platforms and tariffs to accommodate customer demands- as B+B Parkhaus GmbH, Germany and Stavanger Parkering, Norway are doing.

In many situations, such as POLIS member, Amsterdam, on-street and off-street payment systems are also being integrated, pursuing a single common platform for seamless and digital parking for inhabitants and visitors.


On-street parking & curb side management tools

The days of slotting coins into a dodgy parking meter and chasing your paper ticket through the windy city streets are numbered! Today’s on-street parking is undergoing a revolution; from app-based payments to new routing services.

Thierry Brusseaux from FLOWBIRD described how omni channel user interfaces are being used to manage the allocation and payment of the curbside use for an accessible and inclusive city. FLOWBIRD is a software platform which helps local authorities to measure, monitor and manage traffic flows and parking, working with open payments and account-based ticketing.

“In France, more than 90% of parking terminal have been retrofitted or replaced to ensure digital capacities” Brusseaux said.

FLOWBIRD are also looking at integrating parking and MaaS interfaces, combining shared mobility and parking services.


From mismanagement to seamless flows: Parking made easy

For many cities, inefficient pricing, lack of data, congestion and search times are costly, polluting and time consuming. Better data offers a solution for matching supply and demand.

“Our parking is currently being mismanaged, and it is a key asset which we cannot afford such inefficiency,” asserted Morten Hother Sørensen presenting EasyPark’s parking inventory and occupancy tool. EasyPark Group operates in 25 countries across more than 3,200 cities

Indeed, according to a INRIX study, drivers in London spend an eyewatering 67 hours a year searching for a spot, costing them £1,104 each in wasted time, fuel and emissions and the city as a whole £4.3 billion.

The new occupancy tool helps cities understand parking demands and match this with effective regulation.


Optimising occupancy

Peter Dingemans from Dingemans Management B.V. discussed the new applications and technologies for (dynamic) occupancy information.

“We need to take a leading role in helping cities reduce CO2 emissions and manage traffic,” said Dingemans.

However, the level of integration is currently low, and data use is not where it should be.”

Dingemans shared some key advice for those embarking on new ways of managing parking in a dynamic way, including:

  • Define requirements in line with your parking policy and objectives
  • Include multi-channel communication
  • Secure access to (open) dynamic parking data & interoperability
  • Include connectivity with open parking data standards
  • Assure data security and data privacy (GDPR)
  • Evaluation of solutions on TCO basis


What are the cities doing?

Sint- Niklaas puts parking first

The webinar then headed to the Belgian city of Sint-Niklaas to find out about some innovative new tools for parking management. The city is one of the Park4SUMP follower cities, and through the project is placing parking management as part of a wider strategy for freeing up public space, supporting local businesses, reducing search travel, generating revenues, and making the city more attractive.

Stefan van den Branden presented the city’s plan for improving safety and liveability by avoiding cruising and searching for parking, by shifting on-street to off-street parking. Indeed, the vision for Sint- Niklaas’s main square is a significant transformation from a car park to a green public space.

“We are segregating parking, creating zones which allocate parking according to the times visitors stay, and run many services online,” van den Branden reported.

“We are also trying to change users’ mind-set encouraging them to park further from their final destination, combining parking with shared mobility and public transport.”

However, the city’s dynamic parking system still requires updating in order to ensure it fulfils mobility management demands, and upcoming procurement will include ways to measure, monitor and evaluate traffic flows, congestions, travel time and parking occupancy.



Becoming a digital operator: Do you have what it takes?

Then the webinar travelled to the German city of Mainz, part of the (POLIS member) FrankfurtReinMain region. The city is a major transport hub and home to the fifth largest inter-modal port in Germany, it is an important component in European distribution and logistics.

The city is also undergoing a parking transformation, and the webinar heard from PMG Parken in Mainz, who operate over 10,000 parking spaces and 25 carparks, about the recent tech driven changes.

Christian Grzona from Evopark (the city’s long-term partner) presented on behalf of Parken in Mainz how the PMG organisation is adapting new rapidly changing parking demands with their Park&Go app, 24/7 operation central control room, high safety and usability standards and comprehensive staff training.

In Mainz, parking is being treated as part of the urban landscape, not a separate, isolated entity, with Park & Ride Solution- providing free public transport for PMG users, opening bicycle parking- as well as access to discounted events and services across the city.

Grzona stressed the importance of cooperation with municipalities and public services when adapting to new regulations and sharing data on occupancy and tariffs.


Parking Data Standards: The key to integration? 

Creating integrated parking solutions requires securing good data. This is a topic POLIS has discussed widely, and a conversation which demands strong cross-sector collaboration- so what better forum than the POLIS-EPA joint webinar!

The quantity and quality of mobility data is rapidly growing, and it has the potential to reduce the size and complexity of tender specifications, reduce costs and drive ambition and innovation.

Keith Williams from the Alliance for Parking Data Standards (APDS), joined the panel to deliver an overview of the how data is being leveraged to improve parking across Europe. APDS is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to develop, promote, manage, and maintain a uniform global standard that will allow organizations to share parking data across platforms worldwide.

“This is a dynamic standard, that continues to be updated as new demands arise,” said Williams.

He also warned against using the wrong standard which risks lack of adoption by sector and non-compliance by suppliers.


What is next? The 20th EPA International Parking Congress in Brussels

The 2022 Congress- and the EPA’s first CO2 neutral event- will be taking place from the 12-14 September. The theme is “The EU Green Deal and the Future of Parking – Integrated solutions for Dynamic Urban Management”.

Their past events have attracted over 500 delegates- operators in the parking industry, national and local public administrations, representatives of European Commissions and Projects, experts in the field of mobility, urban logistics, electrical mobility, the data world, ITS, Apps and more.

Find out more HERE


Key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. New tech brings legislative challenges: Data regulations and privacy standards around licence plate recognition and customer tracking are key questions for new parking technologies. Cities require a balance between integration and protection for users. Different markets are moving at different speeds, and this will continue to be a key question in the coming years.
  2. Dynamic tariffs for changing behaviours: There are a range of projects commencing in the USA testing dynamic tariffs which respond to real-time parking pressures. However, presenters asserted the need for stability for users,
  3. Interfacing parking with MaaS providers: Many parking providers are integrating their parking offerings with other mobility solutions including bike share and public transport. This is fast becoming mainstream in cities across Europe, and will be key to an inter and multi-modal urban transport system.
  4. Capacity for cities to manage and deploy data: Understanding, analysing and deploying parking data is critical for both local authorities and private operators. Mobility services generate high volumes of data, which can aid in planning, managing, and improving the infrastructure on which these services rely. Both EPA and POLIS have explored the role of data capacities across its working groups and scientific committees.
  5. Effective EV Charging: As EVs become more widespread, full integration within parking solution which enables not only the operation and management of both solutions from one place are commencing. However, the challenge that remains is ensuring sufficient power supply to serve all charging stations and/or have a load balancing solution that avoids disrupting power supply at peak hours.
  6. Cooperation is key: The webinar revealed the need for collaboration between the parking industry and local authority stakeholders to create solutions which work for users, while adding creating long term sustainable mobility behaviours.
  7. Incentivising change: Cities and the parking industry are deploying a range of innovative incentives to drive different parking behaviours, ranging from free public transport to discounted events tickets. Continuing to think outside the box will be critical!



About the webinar series:

POLIS and the EPA work closely together, particularly on Park4SUMP, a European project which brings together 16 cities, working on new methods for parking and integrating parking within sustainable urban mobility policies.

The webinar also follows from POLIS’ Parking Working Group, which facilitates coordination between authorities and professionals in charge of parking policy, on-street and off-street, public and private, and urban planning.


Still want more? Join the Park4SUMP Final Conference

16 cities, one goal; to make parking a priority! You can register now for the (hybrid) Park4SUMP Final Conference, which will take place on 15-16 June in Sofia, Bulgaria. Find out more HERE