Integrating Real-time Availability with Parking Payments

Stefanny Perez
April 12, 2023

Municipal Paid Parking: Benefits and Challenges

Apart from regulating traffic demand in congested areas, paid parking regulations involve a business model in which drivers pay for their infrastructure use, rather than the general population. It also represents a significant source of income for municipalities, which can be invested in infrastructure improvements at the same downtown core and Business Improvement Areas or Districts which in turn attract more visitors.

However, the management and use of curb spaces represent a challenge for municipalities and extends towards its users who tend to find parking to be a stressful process. Paid parking regulations are often difficult to understand and are represented as text descriptions or static maps, which is not useful for wayfinding. Instead, drivers rely only on parking signs which may also be confusing as many different regulations apply on a street at different times of the day. This results in drivers lacking information about where they can park and in turn cruising for parking, causing further congestion.

Parking search and parking payment are two different processes and usually not connected. Like searching for parking, paying for it can be time-consuming if people must physically get a parking payment receipt and leave it at their vehicle. Optimizing these two layers of the parking process with digital methods not only improves the experience for users, but it also improves compliance, occupancy, turnover, and gives city departments all the information to plan, make decisions and achieve their goals in aspects like transportation and the city’s public realm.

That is why CurbIQ has integrated with HotSpot as a single tool to do just that: inform drivers where parking is allowed and available, and to easily pay for their selected parking session.

CurbIQ as a Parking Inventory and Real Time Demand Map

CurbIQ is the optimal solution for knowing the exact destination of a trip and always arriving on time. It consists of an interactive map where users can see all the paid parking locations, their prices and the maximum allowed stay. But that’s just the beginning, you may already know where you can park at your neighborhood, right? Now the magic comes with the live data feature, which enables users to see the availability of curbside spaces or parking lots in real-time! With this information, users can search for their destination and choose the optimal parking location based on cost, distance, and availability. The results of such efficient wayfinding are reduced cruising for parking, less delays and less induced traffic.

Another useful feature of CurbIQ is its customizability to show other mobility assets, to give users a comprehensive view of transportation options or trip connections, such as transit stops or bikeshare stations.

HotSpot as a Parking Payment Method

The solution to inefficient and time-consuming parking payments: HotSpot provides users with simple alternatives to pay through a mobile device, simplifying the process and reducing the probability of receiving a parking ticket. Concurrent users of a city’s paid parking system can download the HotSpot app, save their license plate, and if necessary, their payment information. Then, parking becomes a seamless process as it only requires opening the app, setting a parking time, the corresponding payment ID and tapping pay.

Not only that, but HotSpot members can also get notifications towards the expiry of their parking meter and pay for extra time, avoiding parking tickets. Similarly, members can remove the burden of paying for a fixed period if their plans change, because they can cancel sessions early and be refunded for the unused time. However, downloading an app may not be ideal for everyone, so HotSpot has developed Fast Tap payments, which allow visitors to scan a QR code posted in signs, input their payment information, and quickly pay from the convenience of their own phone.

Integrating CurbIQ and HotSpot

The combination of CurbIQ and HotSpot is more than an addition of features, it is an exponential increase of benefits. First, HotSpot collects all the parking payments related to a given parking location, while CurbIQ’s database knows the capacity of each curb segment and the payment ID related to HotSpot. Then, the added benefit comes with the exchange of supply and demand data, where CurbIQ can compare the curb capacity with the parking sessions given by HotSpot and tell users how many spaces are available at a given time. Users can then choose a parking spot, get driving directions in their routing app, and pay for their parking session from the CurbIQ map. At the end of the day, everyone benefits from it: drivers have a better parking experience, cities increase compliance, and neighborhoods may benefit from the paid parking revenue to improve their infrastructure and welcome more visitors.

The real-time map of CurbIQ was released as part of the HotSpot app for the cities of Saint John, Moncton, Barrie and Halifax. For more information about how to bring this system to your city visit HotSpot or contact their sales team.

The Power of Real-Time Data

Have you ever driven to a place where you cannot find parking, then had to drive multiple blocks away to park and walk back to your destination? Now CurbIQ and Hotspot allow users to make informed transportation decisions before they start a trip. Cities also benefit from it tracking occupancy and turnover rates to manage induced traffic due to cruising. But what is the cost of all this useful data? Live data obtained from parking payment transactions comes at no extra cost from the digital payment system, as it does not require any infrastructure or hardware investments. Therefore, using payment data to measure occupancy and estimate real-time availability is a highly scalable method in any city to achieve 100% coverage. CurbIQ and HotSpot’s system only requires the paid parking regulations, the payment zones’ locations, and their secret formula does the rest.

What’s Next

The smart city concept is trending and being applied to all aspects of cities, nothing is static nor are cities, so systems are becoming dynamic and adaptable to conditions.

Parking is no exception, now that CurbIQ has access to HotSpot’s transaction data, an array of new features can be offered to cities and users alike. First, adaptive parking prices will help regulate demand, improve the transportation conditions and parking availability in busy areas of towns. Then, predictive parking demand will allow users to plan for a trip in the future, given that traffic conditions and parking availability can significantly change between a trip start and end time. Such systems require sophisticated machine intelligence and big data to understand the dynamics of each city and set prices to achieve a city’s goals, whether it is to maximize revenue or occupancy. Are you interested in learning more and trying these new features? Stay tuned for more updates!

Stefanny Perez
Stefanny is a Curbside Mobility Analyst at Arcadis IBI group who is passionate about software systems and transportation. Stefanny brings her experience in traffic engineering, geospatial analysis and programming, to integrate engineering practices with scalable digital solutions that can continue facilitating the movement of people while promoting safety and sustainability.
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