The value of occupancy validators
By Jack Skelton

The old expression "its what you don't know that will hurt you" is very true in the parking industry.  While greatly improved technology and enhanced education in the parking industry  have dramatically improved the overall performance of parking programs, there are still gaps, big gaps, that can be very expensive.  

On-street parking enforcement programs generally only issue citations to a low percentage of violators with high end results around 30%.  On-street programs today typically have near real time data of parking payments, including license plates of paid vehicles, as well as parking citations issued.  What most on-street program managers do not have is data on the total number of actual violators.  How many vehicles parked without paying, exceeding time limits, or parked in no-parking zone?  Most managers could only guess at the true number of uncited violations.  

Ungated parking lots, particularly commercial "for profit" operations, will have a higher capture rate of violators and citations issued per violation on average, however, they still miss a high percentage.  Even gated operations have leakage, and in many cases significant leakage, of vehicles exiting without payment, or full payment.  Consider any airport operation and the value of every vehicle parked.  Even a small slippage rate will grow into a very large miss.  

So what is the solution that will fill in the gaps?  Space sensors, the "hockey pucks" or pole mounted sonar devices, have come a long way.  Early technology shortcomings, expense and less than desired accuracy have soured many on these solutions.  Digital analytics (video images converted to vehicle presence identification) has been pursued as a lower cost more accurate solution.  Digital analytic systems requirement for a hard wire power source and consistent strong connectivity have been a challenge in many environments.  The other issue facing digital analytics is where can I mount a camera?  Street light poles are often off-limits due to regulations and utility control issues.  

If someone could develop a low cost solar powered camera solution capable of accurately processing the digital images the barriers may be broken.  Well someone has....let's discuss.