7 Elements Parking Operators Need To Thrive in the Future of Mobility

The future of mobility is not as complex and distant as it sounds—it’s being shaped right now. Recent times have taught us that despite being particularly vulnerable to people’s travel patterns, the parking industry can also help shape them. As the gatekeepers of mobility, operators can thrive in the industry and embrace the mobility hub concept not as some far-off utopia—but as a reality moving into 2022. Defining the future of how we move: That’s why we at FLASH love this industry, and it’s why we support operators with configurable solutions for every need.

What Drives the Future of Mobility and Parking

Urbanization is one of the strongest catalysts for aggressive growth in mobility. According to Deloitte, approximately 66% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments by 2050. With urbanization comes a plethora of infrastructure, economic, and social adjustments to compensate for a growing population. Whether we’re talking about sprawling megacities such as New York or Beijing, or smaller urban cores, mobility services are being born out of necessity to address people’s needs.

How Operators Can Thrive in the Future of Mobility

Operators can meet these needs with mobility solutions and parking technology that addresses modern challenges. Read on to learn which elements and mindsets you need to own your piece of the future of mobility.

Digital-First Approaches

Digitization is an operational strategy that involves “transitioning your end-consumer to a ‘digital platform,’” as explained by Steve Gresh, Head of Innovation and Technology for LAZ Parking. It also means shifting your own processes from analog to digital—allowing you to take in better data to make smarter decisions. Digitization aligns parking closely with the entirety of the customer journey, which includes interconnected and Internet of Things technology that simplifies the path from A to B.  

To get there, operators should utilize a cloud-born parking platform, such as FLASH, to digitize access, payments, and data. That’s a tall order from an industry in which approximately only very few operators have fully adopted digital payments. But if operators are expecting to compete in a world where 74% of consumers expect to stay contactless and digital beyond the pandemic, digitizing your services should be top of mind.

Automation Over Manual

Checking capacity manually, whether you’re gated or gateless, is a process that limits your ability to streamline and become more cost-efficient. Automation impacts how you handle invoices, customer access, pricing, and general operations. 

Ask yourself: How well do you know what’s going on in your asset at any given moment? Software that automatically collects data and provides a performance snapshot can help you lessen violations in a gateless asset [LINK TO UNGATED PIECE] or alter your price to reflect real-time conditions when you have less or more demand. The future of mobility is heavily rooted in leveraging data quickly—automation will enable operators to do so.

EV-Ready Infrastructure

New infrastructure initiatives taken by the government will have a ripple effect across automakers and the consumer. The signing of these plans into effect has solidified the course of modern vehicle engineering—electric vehicles are the future. For operators, that means it’s time to start building infrastructure that supports the $7.5 billion that will go toward electrifying our cars and roadside service. 

These tips will help you get started in your plans to become EV-ready. As more auto manufacturers go electric, you’ll need to ensure you have the systems and the software in place to handle the resulting customers.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Post-pandemic parking is a different ballgame. Monthly parking isn’t quite monthly anymore [LINK TO NEW MONTHLY PARKING PIECE] because of the advent of permanent flex work. Operators should be adaptable to the new model of parking, which changes how often people visit and how they choose their facilities—based on ultra-convenience and what they might find nearby on mobile apps. 

The modern operator can learn how people travel in today’s world and use reservation apps along with new service offerings like car washing to meet emerging driver needs. 

Forward-Thinking Mentality

Taking it a step further: It may not be enough just to adapt to today’s parking—operators need to think ahead, too. There’s no more exciting time to be in the industry than right now, while the mobility hub is materializing on a daily basis. Micro-mobility, rideshare integrations, fleet management, and mobility operating systems that allow the entirety of a journey to be purchased in one transaction—that’s your modern parking asset. 

Getting there requires intel that transcends legacy hardware and software. Cloud-born platforms can provide you with data that enables you to introduce micro-mobility or fleet management in your underutilized spaces. Integrations with municipal transit systems or parking reservation apps can boil the customer’s journey down to one “book” or “buy” button. What role will your asset play in the way goods and people travel?

An Eye on Autonomous

For the casual consumer, autonomous vehicles are still a decade or so away. But they exist. Teslas and luxury vehicles already contain iterations of autonomous driving, with the more advanced systems being able to navigate roads with impressive accuracy and agility.

The question then becomes—what happens to parking? Our answer is: Not as much as you might think. There’s a belief that autonomous vehicles will kill parking and that these vehicles will navigate back home or to some sort of base while not being used. In fact, these cars will have to park, and likely recharge, in a parking asset just like any other vehicle. While operators needn’t map out a full autonomous parking package yet, these vehicles make the case for other services, such as EV, even stronger and should be on managers’ radars.

Strong Partnership and Integration Strategies

If there’s a key lesson about the future of mobility, it’s that it’s less siloed and more interconnected than ever. Operators can’t survive on individual prowess alone and will be kicked out by competition that integrates with apps and other services to make parking even more convenient for customers. 

In reality, this looks like mobile reservations with ParkWhiz, and journey-planning that plots out different forms of transit for each step, such as in Helsinki. Operators should join the conversation as cities map the next stage of interconnected travel using mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) concepts as a guide.

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