Camera Tech Insights
Intelligent Camera Technology Can Improve Utilization Studies While Dramatically Reducing Their Cost
Parking utilization studies have been an essential element of urban and facility planning since the beginning of the Parking Era. By measuring parking use for areas of a city, a campus, or private parking owners, parking studies give owners the data they need to make informed decisions about whether new parking assets need to be developed, how to optimize existing parking resources, and whether shared parking opportunities exist. A comprehensive study will tell owners not just how many vehicles are using their parking, but which days are busiest and when peak demand occurs on those days. This is vital information for managing parking assets.
Traditionally, parking studies have been conducted by hand, typically by a parking consultant. The consultant follows a route to measure occupancy and total space utilization with data collection typically conducted on various days and various times of day to offer a snapshot of how parking assets are utilized and when peak parking demand occurs. The consultant also measures, as best they can, how long cars tend to stay in particular spaces and how often spaces turn over, thus providing an idea of how those spaces are used.
These traditional parking study approaches are incredibly valuable to owners, but they are also very resource intensive. Hand counts can require many hours on the part of consultants and they are only as accurate as the people doing the counting.
Fortunately, intelligent camera technology can streamline the process, making it more accurate and cost-effective.
Smart Cameras, Better Data
Automated counts are a vast improvement over hand counts because they aren’t limited by the availability of people to conduct the counts, and there’s no risk of human error in the process. Automated car counts utilize EnSight’ EPIC Edge car counting nodes located in strategic locations. EPIC edge is a combination of edge computing and cameras to process count and traffic data. The same technology, is also used in parking guidance, count how many cars enter and leave a parking zone or parking facility. That data is transmitted in real time to cloud servers, where it is immediately compiled and analyzed.
The data can be compiled in any manner required by a parking consultant, municipal or campus parking administrators, or parking owners and operators. All that’s required is to log into the cloud application and set parameters. The application then immediately provides the requested data. With just a few keystrokes, it’s possible to find out how many vehicles entered and left a parking zone or facility, how long they stayed, even what part of a parking facility they used.
Parking consultants, administrators, or owners can get data for any range of dates, time periods on a given day or across days, or for individual areas within a parking zone or facility. Because the data is transmitted to the cloud every 15 seconds, there’s no need to send staff to manually collect SD cards at the end of the day, as you do with pneumatic lines and loops. When consultants, administrators, or owners set up the cameras, they can just leave the equipment alone to do its job.
As an added module, the EPIC edge nodes can be used to provide additional security as video surveillance tools. Since the cameras are always recording, if there is an accident or crime within the parking lot, investigators can turn to the video footage to see what happened. If desired, owners and operators could even establish a “hot list” to track license plates that are barred from a particular parking facility.
For traffic studies, EPIC Edge nodes are typically leased for the purpose of conducting car counts over a finite period of time. However, some cities, organizations, and private owners may prefer to purchase the technology solution so they can continuously monitor parking utilization in the parking facilities. This way, they can access parking data whenever they need it, at a moment’s notice. The cameras are relatively inexpensive and for organizations and owners who need constantly updated data, the investment may make sense.
A Step Forward
The use of Intelligent Camera technology represents an important step forward for parking studies and car counts. The technology provides much more precise and targeted data, eliminates the risk of human error, and should reduce the cost of parking studies, since it doesn’t require significant staff time to conduct counts.