Everyone has a vested interest in parking, ranging from busy estates/facilities teams handling space and resolving complaints, to portfolio managers under pressure from landowners to exceed key performance indicators (KPIs) as they negotiate beneficial leasing terms and longer tenures. Surveyors too, who assess parking capacity and traffic flow for new developments, while senior decision-makers lead on brand reputation, new revenue strategies and demonstrable return on investment as they look to mitigate any downstream ramifications.
While these stakeholders share a reliance on parking, so too do their clients across retail, commercial property and residential markets. Whether that’s a retail park struggling to retain loyal shoppers, attract new custom and deliver great service amidst the threat from online, or the commercial property who enjoys solid year-on-year growth only to be faced with mounting space capacity issues. Even residential developments can be an operational challenge due to multiple user types, unauthorised parking depending on location (taking space allocated for residents) and much more. If there are business tenants sharing the site, this further compounds an already complex scenario against tough contractual obligations.
Data generated by the humble car park is often overlooked but is proving key to unlocking significant commercial opportunity across the entire supply chain. Let’s start by looking at big data.
In the UK, 114 local councils, 31 police forces and a number of large private land operators now use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology due to its accuracy and data value. JLL recently reported that at the beginning of 2020 47% of its shopping centre car parks use ANPR, and one of the UK’s top five supermarkets has this year installed ANPR at almost a third of its sites.
Types of data available include: capacity/occupancy, repeats/loyalty, duration, hits/visits and revenues. Insights can be shared easily with stakeholders across member-only portals, safeguarding personal information through ‘anonymisation’ via randomly generated ‘keys’ to reflect a vehicle registration number – creating a data ‘dot’ for each visit.
To demonstrate, imagine a retail site with declining sales which opts to install a petrol station. Their visitor and duration data may look like this:
"Data generated by the humble car park is often overlooked"
On first glance, the site looks far busier and one would be forgiven for assuming retailers on site are benefiting. However, when we take this alongside duration data, we see a huge swing towards visits of under 10 minutes:
Retail data such as this can be used for demographic insight but also repurposed to push promotional messages to shoppers as they enter the site and even before with technologies such as geo-fencing. The above scenario could capitalise from a promotional discount off the ‘big shop’ for instance.
Data such as duration, repeat visitor analysis and occupancy can be compared against other sites, an ‘estate’ average, or the wider industry – week-on-week, month-on-month and year-on-year insight is also available giving ‘event-based’ before and afters or seasonal trends. The data pool is vast too; for example ParkingEye’s estate of 3,500 car parks processes four million pieces of data every single day – a staggering 1.5 billion movements per year, and this is from just one operator.
Whilst parking revenues are boosted through stricter management (signage, accessible payment kiosks, payment choice), it’s the analysis/repurposing of datapoints that’s proving transformational for parking. ANPR is fast replacing physical barriers but few realise this is about more than aging maintenance contracts and temperamental hardware. By going ‘free-flow’, a site can seriously lift space turnover – like Manchester NHS Foundation Trust who elevated entry capacity by 50,000 cars per month due to better flow – and retail parks where space turnover is up 30%, encouraging new visitors and increasing footfall through tenants’ doors.
For sites with plenty of spare capacity, ANPR data is being integrated with pre-booking software to offer live availability for motorists looking for parking nearby. Dynamic pricing adjusts rental charges based on supply/demand in the vicinity throughout the day with application programming interfaces to understand who’s paid, creating new margin-rich revenue streams whilst attracting new audiences.
ANPR-generated data also provides other insight to drive business growth and optimise investments. Personalised data dashboards help agents demonstrate high-performing sites. Fully customisable, these visualise KPIs and use benchmarking comparators to encourage tenants to sign longer-terms, attract new landowners or broaden out portfolios with existing clients. Typically, access to site- or estate-wide data is via online portals, highlighting areas of opportunity such as available capacity or areas of improvement like poor traffic throughput compared to similar sites. ANPR data can also assist financial forecasting backed by accurate ITTT (if this, then that) modelling to provide scenario projections, even planning assistance where parking supply is a strict dependency.
The British Parking Association highlighted that 39% of motorists find parking stressful. While data-enabled environments improve the visitor experience, repurposed data goes further to make parking virtually invisible, with ANPR-integrated software like auto-billing which can lift repeat shopper rates by 15% or more due to increased convenience.
Data not only tracks who’s on site but duration too – a simple short message service on exit informs registered users how much they’ve paid, negating the need for payments on-site or by phone, also perfect for the UK’s 1m+ disabled motorists. The technology even allows automatically rounded-up payments to nominated charities, augmenting other corporate social responsibility efforts.
We each spend four days every year looking for parking, at huge detriment to air quality. Solar powered ANPR-integrated payment kiosks provide immediate carbon offsetting to support green credentials, and potentially better leasing terms, while the free-flow barrierless environments mentioned earlier dramatically reduce ‘waiting/circling’ behaviours.
ANPR-integrated permit solutions assess local public transport options via Google application programming interfaces and these potentially ‘green’ permits can be prioritised. This works similarly to when the data matches a vehicle as being a car sharer or an electric vehicle. As every element uses data points, everything’s paperless without any need to even display a permit in the car.
When combined with data, it’s clear the humble car park has more to offer real estate than meets the eye as data becomes more integrated with asset management.
Related competencies include: Data management
"For sites with plenty of spare capacity, ANPR data is being integrated with pre-booking software to offer live availability for motorists looking for parking nearby"