Tech tries to end the annoying search for mall parking spots
Malls around the country are introducing a host of high-tech solutions to help manage the annoying chore of parking.
Towson Town Center in Towson, MD, for instance, recently completed the installation of Park Assist technology featuring color-coded parking decks and signage. Signs shine green to show when spaces are available, red where there are none and blue for handicapped availability.
Each level is color-coded to help people find their cars easier, and 1,600 standardized signs have been added to improve navigation. Under the new system, time spent looking for parking fell 44 percent while the number of drivers searching more than five minutes fell 12 percent, according to a statement.
In a similar manner, Park City Center in Lancaster, PA earlier this year rolled out new technology from INRIX that uses heat maps and GPS data to identify which parking lots are full and which are not. Red areas on the map indicate when a lot is full or nearly full, yellow means it’s somewhat full and green means largely empty.
Offering reserved parking is also becoming more common.
In early November, the Mall of America became the first shopping complex in the Midwest to offer on-demand parking. Using the MyPark app, shoppers can reserve one of 20 parking spots near the main entrances. Reservations can be made a few minutes before arrival or up to six months in advance. The service costs $6 for up to two hours and $3 for each additional hour. The spots are protected by a metal barrier that lowers when activated by the smart phone app.
Finally, paying for parking is going high-tech. The Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles recently introduced a “Smart Parking” program that enables guests to pay for their parking through an app instead of with a traditional paper ticket. In Portland, OR, a “Parking Kitty” car-payment app meows three times before the driver’s time expires to remind them to get back to the car or to request and pay for additional time.
- Towson Town Center adds parking technology to garage – Baltimore Sun
- Towson Town Center adds technology to improve parking – WBAL TV
- Apps Promise to End Retail Parking Hassles – RetailWire
- On-demand parking arrives at MOA – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Put it in park with new features in Google Maps – Google
- Know before you go: parking difficulty on Google Maps – Google
- Paper parking tickets are on their way out – USA Today
- Free app to help Park City shoppers find parking during holidays – Lancaster Online
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where are the biggest opportunities for technology to improve parking at large shopping centers? Which of the methods mentioned (or others you’ve seen) have the greatest roll-out potential?