According to a just-released survey on trends in parking, while parking professionals are finding increased pressure to boost parking revenue, significant trends center on demand for sustainable parking solutions and advances in new technology that are revolutionizing the industry.
These changes are taking place at a time when the expertise of parking professionals is gaining recognition as integral to urban planning, development and transportation solutions.
The 2011 Emerging Trends in Parking survey was conducted online among members of the International Parking Institute (IPI) and released at IPI's Conference & Expo, the world's largest gathering of parking professionals with more than 225 exhibitors and nearly 2500 attendees from 25 countries.
The survey reveals that the need to generate more parking revenue is the top trend impacting the industry. Nearly half of professionals (44 percent) placed increasing revenue at the top of their list of significant parking trends.
IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad explains that parking professionals "are being asked to do more with less as cash-strapped cities tap parking revenues once re-invested into parking and transportation-related services to fund non-related services."
An increasing demand for green and sustainable parking solutions is the second leading industry trend, cited by more than one-third of survey respondents.
In a related concern, 19 percent of respondents specifically identified the need to provide accommodations for alternative fuel vehicles, including charging stations for electric cars, in the near future.
Conrad explains that parking is more compatible with sustainability than most people realize. A critical element of the transportation equation, well-planned parking can increase use of mass transportation, reduce the number of commuters and decrease cruising for parking.
He adds that many parking garages today are using energy-efficient lighting, solar panels, and innovative water and waste management systems to reduce the carbon footprint.
In addition to parking revenue and sustainability, survey respondents signaled that new parking technologies belong atop the list of emerging trends.
About one-third of IPI's survey respondents see an increasing demand for cashless or electronic payment methods.
More than one-quarter anticipates an increase in the use of smart phone apps to find, reserve and pay for parking, and a similar number see a move toward innovative technologies to improve access control.
Industry professionals also cited other emerging parking technologies such as automatic vehicle identification and wireless sensing devices for traffic management.
These technologies are already revolutionizing the industry.
About 23 percent of the survey respondents cited an increased need for improved customer service as an emerging trend.
"Parking matters to people and we never lose sight of the need for customer service," Conrad says. "The industry is focused on ways to make the parking experience more efficient, more environmentally-friendly, and more satisfying."
The IPI survey was conducted in January 2011. Results were tabulated and analyzed by Opinion Works, an independent research firm based in Annapolis, Maryland.
The complete list of trends with the most impact on the parking industry is available at the International Parking Institute's website at www.parking.org