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Friday , 14 June 2024

Integrated Parking Management

Parking is a major problem in India. There is a need for good parking management solutions. Omnitec offers many parking system solutions: Parking guidance system, RFID access systems, ANPR / LPR systems, computerized valet parking system (CVPS), On-street parking system, high security bollards & road blockers, crash-rated barriers etc.

Integrated Parking Management Server (IPMS) provides automated, intelligent parking services. Today, getting good manpower is a challenge in India and secondly there is poor efficiency. The IPMS’s automation minimizes the manpower needed for a car park and is a one-time investment. Since the revenues on parking are very good in India, it would not take more than a year to recover the investment done on these properties.

The IPMS has an entry station and an automated pay station which could also be a manual cash station if required. These are integrated together with the parking guidance which gives information on the number of spaces available in the parking lot. There are licence plate cameras to capture the number plates of the vehicles. This is a country with large number of vehicles and car parks. For security reasons we often have to find out the number plate of a particular car that enters a car park and this is not possible so effectively with CCTV cameras alone, but it can be done very effectively with the integrated licensed plate system. The user has to just type the license plate number and the system will give the complete information about the vehicle.

The IPMS can be used very effectively in large residential complexes and communities with mixed land use. Most of the time due to the high cost of land, there is often limited access to car parks in spite of there being a large number of cars waiting to be parked. The IPMS can help enable frequent access of the vehicles to the car parking without having to wait at the barriers. In the parking guidance section there are sensors and overhead signals. The green signal indicates the parking space is free while red indicates it is occupied. The system monitors through suitably placed sensors the parking spaces for vehicle occupancy every few seconds. A change of occupancy status detected by the sensors is transmitted via a controller to a server with a software which keeps a record of the change of statuses. Overstaying by a vehicle beyond its paid time limit triggers an alarm by the software, which informs the personnel to take suitable enforcement measures. So this could really help to handle the parking situation especially in the busy municipal car parks where there is a high turnaround of vehicles.

One of the main benefits of parking guidance in parking lots is that it allows optimum utilization of parking spaces to their fullest capacity. For example, there may be a situation where a user finds that a car park is about 50-60% occupied and finding a vacant car space out of the remaining 30-40% is turning out to be difficult, especially during the holidays and weekends. Now, with the parking guidance system, before the user books the car space, he can see very clearly if there is a parking space available, whether space is available on the right, on the left etc. Based on this, the driver can take a decision whether to enter a parking lot because there is no point in getting inside a car park when there is no space available. So this system manages all this automatically with the help of sensors. If there is a high turnaround of vehicles in the car park it will result in more revenue and optimum utilization of the car park. For example in a manual car park there is a marshal who gives directions to drivers to park the cars. But often, when the vacant parking space is near a bigger vehicle like a SUV, the driver who is looking out for the parking space would not be able to locate this space manually. This is where the system helps. It neatly picks those remotely left over spaces so that the driver can get into the vacant car space without searching around. The technology also helps to lower the surveillance cost to the client and to the operator because comparatively very few personnel are required in the car park.

Detection and reporting of illegally parked cars to the control room can be very easily done through instant, weekly, quarterly and annual reports, which is very important and useful. The situation of the car park at any time can be easily visualized by the control room personnel. Parking guidance system gives clear and accurate directions to the driver, making the way finding much easier to the driver. The digital display, visible from over 100 meters, helps the driver to make quicker decision to choose the nearest available parking slot. Traffic flow is smooth within the car park and the driver does not have to surf around within the car park looking for empty slots. Drivers are at peace since the automated car park has an index which shows the levels of parking and the occupancy of all the levels, which makes it quite easy to make a parking decision. It also makes the parking flow very clear for cars which are entering as well as leaving the car park.

This system can be operated using manual cashiers or fully automated pay stations. The automated pay stations are robust devices which can work 24×7, 365 days a year. The pay stations are fully scalable for upgrades if more units have to be added at a future point of time. Sometimes it is not possible to use the automated pay stations due to some problems; in this case, the system provides for manually operated heavy duty industrial grade cashiering machines.

The system has comprehensive and sophisticated functionality, which is required to handle the challenges of the parking industry. It is suitable for both simple car parks as well as very complex parking facilities. It comes with an advanced web based software application, available both for manual cashiering and fully automated play station operations.

The system is fully scalable for upgrades and provides complete reports on transactions. It is designed to monitor and provide support, both centrally and remotely, to car parks. Therefore, for example, a problem in a car park, with the parking sever located in Hyderabad, can be effectively monitored and viewed from Gurgaon, allowing support personnel to provide online support to fix the problem thus saving time for both the technicians as well as the clients.

A case study of a large mall with an effective automated parking guidance system installed by Omnitec is the LuLu mall in Cochin, Kerala, considered the largest mall in the country. It has eight entry points and eight exit points with about 7-8,000 cars entering and leaving the premises every day. The location of the mall is quite complex in terms of providing parking arrangements since it is at the junction of two highways and the feeder form the highways is directly connected to the mall. The company did a lot of study while designing the parking guidance system to avoid traffic jams caused by the parking system, because these jams could spill over to the national highway which would be a disaster. The mall has been provided with high speed barriers which allow the drivers to get to the mall very quickly. A walkthrough was done to simulate the parking situation in the mall.

RFID and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) are two technologies used in car parks which are gradually getting popularity in India due to their dependability and efficiency. Earlier, parking systems were using proximity cards which required stopping the cars, lowering the glasses, swiping the card and then getting into the car park. Today this parking process has become hands-free, driven by the large number of vehicles that seek access to car parks in all sorts of buildings – commercial, residential or mixed use buildings. The system requires the user to register the number plate of the vehicle and is also given RFID tags. As soon as the vehicle nears the camera at the vehicle barrier, the camera scans the tag and on detecting a valid tag, allows the vehicle access to the car park or building. There are many applications of the system – gated communities for vehicle access, residential commercial complexes, multi-level car parks, quick access for VIP parking at shopping malls, tolling applications, vehicle access at manufacturing plants, fleet management, waste management etc.

ANPR also finds use in parking management. This system, which is widely used by the traffic police for speed violation detection and enforcement is also used to control access to building and car parks. The camera at the entry barrier scans the number plate of the oncoming car and if it does not match with registered numbers or if it is a blacklisted car, denies it access. The application can be scaled to suit various needs. Omnitec also has on-street parking m achiness which can be used by municipal departments.

Omnitec also offers some subsidiary elements which complement the car parks: high security bollards and road blockers. Nowadays there is a high security threat in the country, especially to shopping malls and parking lots which are soft targets. This equipment is suited to counter this threat.

Wilfred Menezes
Omnitec Group

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