If you own or operate a car park, you must comply with requirements specified by the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 by keeping your site safe for people entering it, lawfully or otherwise.

However, a site safety plan does not have to be an onerous overhead, run simply to secure compliance. By giving your customers safe and secure parking, an intelligent car park system can boost your reputation and profitability. Smart technology also allows you to extract data that informs your ongoing strategies for further improvement.

Safer and more profitable

When a driver arrives, wayfinding signs can indicate space numbers available on each level, then further signs could give turn-by-turn guidance to available parking spots. Final help would come from clearly visible LEDs above each spot. These can be colour coded, not only as green for free and red for occupied, but also with many other alternatives: blue for disabled, purple for premium, for example.

All of these signs are updated in real time by in-ground, surface-mount or overhead bay sensors. Such IoT sensors and signs communicate via a shared network, driven by a local server and/or remote cloud based resource.

This wayfinding not only improves driver experience by saving them time and stress, it also makes the car park safer for all users by managing and reducing traffic circulation and avoiding confusion.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) can also make life safer and more convenient for your customers. They can register to a scheme that uses the ANPR data to calculate the parking fee and debit their bank account directly. Accordingly, they can exit immediately without needing to leave their vehicle to queue and pay. Additionally, ANPR footage can provide you with precise proof of stay duration in case of any dispute.

When customers leave their vehicles to walk through car parks, their way should be well-lit for safety and security. Good lighting levels also ensure the best quality CCTV footage. However, this requirement may need balancing against pressure to reduce energy use and light pollution. LEDs provide excellent solutions to this challenge because they are highly energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and readily controllable to only illuminate when people are detected nearby.

CCTV cameras can increase your customers’ sense of security, while allowing you to remotely monitor your car park’s status in real time. All CCTV cameras are expected to be connected to an appropriate digital recording system (DVR) that can store camera images at an established frame rate and to an evidential standard. It is important to note here that when using CCTV, suitable management policies must be in place to ensure that the system is compliant with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Air pollution from internal combustion engines is always unpleasant, and can become dangerous in an underground car park without natural ventilation. Sometimes, the preferred solution is to operate forced ventilation continuously, 24/7. However, it may be acceptable to run ventilation only when sensors detect that hazardous gas concentrations have exceeded prescribed levels. This can provide considerable energy savings, both from reduced fan operation and potentially also from any related heating or cooling costs.

Use your data well

While your ANPR cameras and other IoT sensors are helping you to manage your smart parking, control costs, and provide safer and more pleasant customer experiences, you can also further leverage the data they generate. For example, you may spot that good weather decreases visits, and respond by testing promotions to lure customers in – and then use parking data to determine which works most effectively.

Other opportunities exist to build more personal relationships with customers who become account-holders and consent to receive marketing information. For example, you could offer incentives to those who use a site during evenings to arrive earlier to shop or enjoy a meal.

To learn more about how you could set up a flexible, futureproof digital infrastructure to enable a safe and profitable automated parking system, please visit our smart car parks page.

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