Traditional parking spaces and lots were already the subject of attention pre-pandemic. The seemingly one-dimensional blocks of real estate are the source of fierce frustration when unavailable — or utter joy when a spot magically appears and life seems to effortlessly fall into place.
Parking is a universal issue: To some degree, we've all experienced adding in travel time to circle blocks to find a space; managing our tempers when construction takes over a parking zone; running down the block to beat a parking enforcement officer to avoid a fine; breathing in excessive exhaust from idling cars waiting for a spot; and wondering why the parking-to-population ratio just never seems realistic.
For a while, it seemed like the ride-hailing and public transport lifestyle was a quasi-solution and a step in the right direction. These modes for getting from Point A to Point B supported emotions and logistics in not having to deal with finding a parking spot; millennials' need to not own any assets (let alone learn to drive); and emissions reductions, with fewer vehicles on the road. It was a meaningful situation that created jobs, provided efficiency and saved money as well as had a green benefit that paid dividends.
That approach worked around parking issues with clever solutions — it didn't innovate parking itself. But now, cities, investors and tech innovators are focusing on catapulting these blocks of precious real estate into the future using artificial intelligence, edge computing and deep learning to transform parking into demand-based space management. Because of COVID-19, share-based transportation is giving way to private vehicles and single-passenger travel as people opt for personal space, health and safety. The timing couldn't be better for a parking innovation overhaul.