2020 was always considered to be a one-of-its-kind year, and it has undoubtedly been one so far. Perhaps, this is the only year since decades when people around the world have had to spend most of their time at home – almost five months! Even the little respite offered in between the coronavirus lockdowns has been spent in fears of catching the contagion. Every aspect of life – from the economy to healthcare, from grocery shopping to parking has had a whole new definition. Will COVID-19 change the parking business? Find out.
COVID-19: Synonymous with Change
The term ‘COVID-19’ can almost be used as the other name for a change, for it has transformed the world in ways unspeakable. The regular everyday business of the world has taken an about-turn with rising safety concerns – regular mask-wearing has become a mandate, constant washing of hands and sanitization of belongings has become the norm, and maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet on the front, the back, and the sides has become the law.
The same holds true for the economy – millions of people across the world have been laid off or had a salary cut, and the world economy is the most sluggish it has ever been. Amidst all such changes, it is only normal that the parking industry is about to witness a change, unlike anything ever known before.
The New World Order for Parking
The ‘new normal’ for parking businesses – smart IoT-based parking solutions – has been around for quite some time now; however, many facilities are yet to adopt and experience the benefits of this end-to-end parking technology. Now, with the global lockdowns and increased stress on social distancing safety protocols, switching to such smart solutions will become imperative for parking businesses.
For a good year or two, maybe even longer, the pandemic is likely to have a lingering presence, with people hesitant to establish close physical contact at grocery stores, doctor’s clinics, and parking lots. Just like the concept of contactless delivery, contactless parking experience will become a household phrase. Parking operators need to prepare themselves to offer a contactless parking experience to customers at various touchpoints – entry, exit, payments, among others. This would mean smart parking applications for a streamlined entry and exit of vehicles into a parking lot and most importantly, electronic, ticket-free modes of payment; pulling up a ticket is something most customers would shy away from.
With the help of smart parking’s contactless payment technology, parking businesses can offer their customers multiple contactless payment modes for both on and off-street parking – contactless bank card, smartphone, or NFC-enabled device held near the payment terminal for a simple transaction, etc. This technology will be key to saving time at the entry point and ticket machines for shorter queues.
Such systems have been in place in parts of the US and UK for a while now; however, post-COVID efforts towards this end have also been rigorous. For instance – The GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) that operates Hyderabad’s international airport has introduced India’s one and only completely contactless car parking in view of the highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus. By introducing contactless toll transactions, a high degree of safety is being maintained.
Private parking lot operators will also need to embrace smart touchless parking solutions if they wish to stay in business in a post-COVID world. In light of the contagion, parking lot operators get the benefit of remotely monitoring and analyzing payment data without having to physically enter into a facility; everybody can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they’re safe.
Currently, everybody has only ballpark figures when it comes to predicting the end of this pandemic crisis. From the looks and talks of it, the virus may spare, only to leave behind a world where its presence can be as much tangibly felt as now. As Kevin Woznicki, Principal of ParkTrans Solutions puts it, “Facilities that ensure proper and regular sanitization and smart parking ‘contactless’ tech will naturally get the most business” – it is indisputable that herein lies the key to staying relevant in the New World Order for parking.