As areas all across the country become more densely urbanized, there is a commodity that is becoming increasingly valuable: parking.

For drivers who need to find a place to park – as well as the local governments that offer parking or have a vested interest in helping drivers get their cars off the streets and into a parking spot – it’s important to make the process of parking management more efficient.

Studies show that drivers are spending more time than ever hunting for a parking space. When their frustration mounts, they either park somewhere they shouldn’t, or they simply give up and drive off, canceling the meeting or skipping the social event they had planned.

From the local government’s perspective, when those drivers can’t find a parking spot and give up, it means a loss of local business or other parking revenue. Also, if drivers do park illegally, it can create safety hazards.

Surprisingly, even though cities are hard-pressed financially and could leverage revenue from parking violations, they aren’t really set up to do that. One study reported that as few as five percent of parking violations are actually cited1.

Better parking management

All of this highlights the need to manage the available parking spaces as effectively as possible. From a city government perspective, the value is in creating a safer environment for drivers and pedestrians, as well as managing the costs and the “parking experience.”

A number of cities and private parking lot operators, are installing smart parking systems, or sensors in each parking spot, which can indicate available spaces available at any given time. But a more effective approach is to leverage video of the parking areas through video analytics systems that provide a comprehensive picture of the parking situation.

In many cases, the video cameras are already in place and delivering the necessary feeds. It is the intelligent analytics piece that takes all that video and turns it into useful and actionable information. This can accomplish easily what would otherwise require huge teams of people monitoring video feeds.

Comprehensive picture

With smart video analytics, you can get a comprehensive picture of the parking environment. Who is parking where? Are the vehicles cars or trucks? Are the spaces sized properly for the types of vehicles that need them? Having this type of data available can guide both current operations and future planning for better parking management.

From a quality of life standpoint, the ability to maximize parking efficiency is a big component. When people are circling around parking lots or streets, hunting for a parking space, that means more cars on the street. More pollution, more traffic jams. More frustration. It is in everyone’s interest to get people into parking spots as quickly as possible so they can go about their business.

With video analytics, you can easily evaluate data such as how many vehicles occupied various spaces throughout the course of a day. In paid and gated parking areas, you can match the number of vehicles that used those spaces to revenue collection. Video analytics can also provide the information needed to determine how well you are managing parking revenue.

A smart parking system such as this can generate significant return on investment. Cities that have implemented such systems have reported noteworthy increases in parking revenue.

There are other benefits as well. Smart video analytics enables license plate recognition, which makes it possible to efficiently blacklist or whitelist certain vehicles based on their plate numbers. And it can help should those vehicles be used in the commission of a crime.

Whitelisting can help make sure that only approved vehicles are parking in certain areas, with the ability to keep unauthorized parkers out of certain areas or to be immediately notified of violations. Blacklisting allows the system to watch for and alert authorities to certain license plates in a given parking area. If a crime suspect’s license plate is known, and the suspect tries to ditch the car in a parking garage, the system could flag that as soon as the plate is spotted.

License plate recognition analytics also provide an improved recourse against those drivers who park in paid spots but manage to leave without paying. Those violators can be flagged immediately and quickly cited for violation and for collection activities. The same is true for anyone illegally parking on the streets. It’s a deterrent to bad parking behavior.

One more advantage to a smart video analytics system for parking management is its ability to adjust to environmental effects on the video feeds. If there is fog, or snow falling, or even if the camera lens gets dirty, a smart system can adjust for those shortcomings and allow the high quality analytics to continue undisturbed.

Smart video analytics also delivers a number of benefits for security and public safety too.