February 28, 2024

5 Ways Municipalities from Small to Large are Taking Control of Their Parking

Parking a car is unlikely to rank highly as a favourite experience for any driver, but in recent years a range of new parking solutions have been developed that make looking for – and managing – parking a much more efficient pursuit. These solutions include contactless payment apps, camera or sensor-based parking systems, and license plate readers (LPRs). Each technology and solution comes with its own costs (upfront, long term and even hidden in some cases) while providing different levels of value.

Municipalities enlist smart parking systems for various reasons, including improved urban planning, increased revenues, and better parking experience. When it comes to increased revenues, most parking technologies are designed to provide a marginal increase in revenues. However, even these benefits aren’t usually maximized, as studies show that 45-60% of drivers don’t pay for parking. Furthermore, for various reasons, many smaller municipalities think smart parking technology wouldn’t benefit them as greatly as a larger municipality.

Based on feedback from current eleven-x customers, as well as consultants and other key players in the parking industry, eleven-x’s eXactpark --  (a multi-faceted sensor-based solution that benefits drivers and parking managers -- offers value beyond current solutions and the product longevity makes it affordable for cities big and small. Keep reading to learn more about the unique benefits of the eXactpark solution.

Benefit #1: Easy, out of the box operating

Most smart parking systems come with many moving parts that could be difficult for a smaller parking team to manage or necessitate the hiring of staff to run the system, which would increase the operating costs for all sizes of municipalities. On the other hand, eXactpark comes out of the box fully operational: each sensor takes mere minutes to install (which is handled by a team of local contractors), needs zero to minimal maintenance, and the solution is run on the backend entirely by the eleven-x team. This takes the pressure off municipalities to master the day to day running of the solution and allows them to focus more on decision-making around the data collected by eXactpark.

Benefit #2: Better experience for drivers

Typically, one of the biggest barriers to a smooth parking experience is difficulty finding a parking spot. Whether an area is especially busy or there is a limited number of parking spots available, parking troubles are unlikely to motivate drivers to revisit a specific location if they can avoid it. eXactpark removes this barrier via its eXactnav™ stall availability and wayfinding app, which allows drivers to locate available parking spots and navigate directly to them. As a result, drivers have a frictionless parking experience and experience none of the frustration of endlessly circling while looking for an open .

In addition, eXactpark integrates seamlessly with digital wayfinding signage that directs drivers to available parking spaces. In the Town of Oakville, data pulled from eXactpark shows that the installation of wayfinding signage caused peak occupancy on a previously underutilized parking zone to increase by over 20%, whereas the area’s busiest street saw an occupancy decrease of more than 10%. This means that drivers can find available parking fast, thereby radically improving overall parking experience.

Benefit #3: Accurate data

Over recent years, there has been much debate in the parking industry about the accuracy of data attained via camera- and sensor-based smart parking solutions. However, this data's accuracy is fully reliant on the reliability of the data collection method.

In eXactpark’s case, this is via our patented, award-winning SPS-X sensors, which offer 99.5% accuracy in all-weather environments and can be installed in pavement or above ground. This means that the data being collected by the SPS-X is available at all times and features industry-leading accuracy. Data can be used for a variety of use cases, for parking strategies big and small. It also allows for productive discussion between stakeholders about the reality of a municipality’s parking assets, provides insight into usage, and avoids wasting parking teams’ or consultants’ time gathering data. Luckily, better decisions made by municipal stakeholders means improved quality of life for those living in and visiting a municipality.

Benefit #4: Affordability & fully optimized revenues

The current parking industry standard for collecting data is through consultant-led studies twice per year, which involve the counting of parked cars within specific areas, or via payment applications, which only provide part of the picture (i.e. data around paying parkers). Instead, a smart parking system like eXactpark can be used to provide 24/7, 365 parking data based on true occupancy – often a more cost-effective solution than twice yearly studies. eXactpark’s affordability further lies in its lack of maintenance and effect on public works (including snow removal) which would add to a municipality’s operating budget costs. Most effectively, it amortizes costs over its maximum 10-year installation time and pays for itself in 1-3 years.

For the City of Spruce Grove, this was a main factor in their decision to move forward with an eXactpark installation: “We were looking for an affordable solution. As a small municipality we don’t have a lot of money, so we wanted something that was very affordable, something that would last a long time. We’ve had [eXactpark] in place for a long time. [It’s] very reliable, no issues. We didn’t have to hire staff or go to Council and say the solution is going to have a huge operating impact,” says Brent Ives, Director of Information Systems at the City of Spruce Grove.

Benefit #5: Better planning & demand-based pricing opportunities

Through the use of accurate data comes the possibility of improved urban planning. This means municipalities can spend their budgets more intelligently by getting a clear picture of their parking assets’ usage through eXactpark and avoiding costly decisions – like building expensive garages downtown or adding parking spaces – based on sparse or inaccurate data.

The City of Spruce Grove was able to avoid the costly addition of a surface lot by showing eXactpark-sourced data that there is, in fact, parking available in the downtown core – but that much of it is being occupied by those who work in the surrounding area. This led to a further bylaw change which required bigger buildings being constructed to have an increased number of parking spaces be built in tandem.

It also allows for the possibility of demand-based pricing, which sees parking spots on a busy block costing less than those on a busy one. This means drivers are drawn toward spots in less busy areas and makes sure valuable parking assets stay at a manageable capacity. Arlington County’s Government is using eXactpark’s data from 4,500 sensors to propose quarterly price changes to influence driver behavior in order to make more parking spots available in the busiest traffic areas. “[W]e have a lot competing demands on the curb, and right now we have a lot of negative externalities associated with the search for parking in certain neighborhoods…We are using occupancy data that is available in real-time to help us make decisions to adjust our pricing according to occupancy,” says Melissa McMahon, Parking & Curbspace Manager at Arlington County Government.

Maximize eXactpark’s Benefits for Your Parking Assets

As the density of municipalities increases, parking will become an even more valuable resource. As a result, reliable, accurate smart parking platforms like eXactpark will only become more necessary. This makes it the best option for municipalities big and small that are looking to take control of their parking assets and improve the quality of life of their residents. To learn more about eXactpark, click here.