Mobility is the lifeblood of urban life. The methods and tools for moving people and things from place to place, have been radically altered and are predicted to change even more within the next five years. While the parking industry has been slow to adapt, it is deeply impacted by these sweeping mobility changes as they push the industry forward, with some resistance, into the future.
Since 2018 the topic of Mobility has bubbled to the top of parking and transportation conferences and expos around the world. Driven by consumer demand and the need to manage increased urbanization and larger populations, five mobility trends were identified that are rapidly transforming the parking landscape:
Adapting to Consumer Demand/Travel Behavior Changes
It’s no secret that travel consumers today expect, even demand, a seamless and personalized end-to-end buying experience, using any device, and when that experience is not delivered will search elsewhere until it is found. Making customer experience even more complex are the numerous devices, third-party apps, and purchasing options. Yet, these touchpoints help transform a traveler’s journey from the one-time straight-line purchase to an incredibly complex booking journey on multiple channels, having multiple touchpoints and spanning varying and unknown time periods. This, combined with the myriad travel options, such as bikes, scooters, personal drivers, are causing major disruption. Because of these intricacies, travel buying behavior is often difficult to measure and predict.
Having a plethora of players, some of which are tech giants, Mobility has made giant technological leaps in a relatively short period of time. Once mere concepts, such developments as smart cities, artificial intelligence (AI), transportation network companies (TNCs), automated vehicles, mobile parking apps and more, illustrate how quickly ideas can become reality through innovation and connectedness. For the parking industry in particular, these tech advances create new opportunities to drive revenue and better meet consumer demands, but the challenge is to keep ahead with the pace of change.
Curb Value and Management
The curb is more widely used than ever. Different interests compete for its use, including TNCs and taxis, online shopping deliveries and couriers, bikers, local businesses, pedestrians, mobile vendors, emergency services and accessibility. The curb’s access is limited, and its value is high. The need to gather and manage inventory, allocate, optimize and manage the curb has never been greater. Changes in Mobility have caused cities to think of the curb and its use in a new light: “With new technologies, new rules and new use cases, curbs are no longer static, inflexible installations. Instead, curb use will resemble dynamic, highly flexible, self-solving puzzles. The move from a “parking city” to a “pick-up and drop-off city” is only one part of a broader shift to re-think and manage streets and curbs as flexible-use and self-adjusting spaces. This will require changes in how these spaces are designed, regulated, monitored and priced.” (The Shared Use City: Managing the Curb.)
Collaboration and Data Sharing
Increased interconnectivity calls for increased collaboration between private and public entities. The rise in smart cities, for example, requires that private entities work together with public to achieve a successful smart city. Partnerships are increasingly valuable and those who refuse to collaborate will be left behind. Data sharing is critical to Mobility and the tools that facilitate it, and many third-party companies feel they lose competitive edge by sharing their data. But some cities, such as San Francisco, are requiring TCAs to share their data for the greater good. And such companies as Uber and FedEx are relinquishing their treasure trove of data into National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) SharedSheets, a data-sharing project that “will establish data standards for curbs, traffic speeds, and transit data, formats that can be shared between companies, agencies, even across cities.” (Wired)These Mobility partnerships have paved the way with third-party vendors, opening new opportunities for the Parking Industry as well.
Desire for Sustainability
Underlying the lightning speed changes is a deep desire to preserve the environment with sustainable Mobility practices. Increased urbanization and more megacities serve as the catalyst for citizens to demand respect for the environment. Mobility has responded to a call for reduced carbon footprint with solutions such as autonomy, electrification, shared mobility (auto and bicycle) and more access for bicycles and pedestrians.
These five Mobility trends have catapulted the parking industry, forcing them to keep pace with the world around them as it moves into the future.