Coronavirus drives up need for contact-free parking tech – Daily News
In a world where masks and social distancing have become the norm, people are still looking for ways to avoid direct contact with others as COVID-19 drags on.
Spaces USA developed its own solution — for parking, that is.
The New York-based company created technology that allows drivers to park their cars in paid parking lots or garages without touching any surfaces or interacting with attendants.
The service was initially rolled out in Austin, Texas, but has since made its way to several major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles.
The technology is currently in use at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Towers garage in Los Angeles, The Brand luxury apartment complex in Glendale and SKYCHURPview Center on 98th Street near Los Angeles International Airport, among other locations.
Most of Spaces’ business targets parking facilities at hospitals and office buildings, but the technology is also being installed at an airport in Atlanta.
How it works
Customers call a number posted at the parking entrance to gain access to the lot or garage. When they park, a text message prompts them to enter credit card information, and when ready to leave, they call the same number, which raises the parking arm to exit the facility.
“We partnered with PayPal on this, so your personal information is secure and protected,” said Jerry Skillett, Spaces’ executive chairman. “The only information we have is your telephone number, but you won’t get any marketing messages. That’s super important because no one wants to get random text messages.”
The technology works in conjunction with Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps, and users don’t have to download an app or pre-register to use the service.
And the cost?
“It’s $1 each time you use it,” Skillett said. “The average parking charge in the U.S. is $20, so adding a dollar is really nothing. Drivers who park in a paid lot or garage on a monthly basis pay just $1 a month.”
The company also offers a navigation option.
“We lease parking spaces in some of the garages as well, and we work with garage operators to navigate people into those facilities,” Skillett said. “It provides a seamless way to get there and park because sometimes you’ll get directions to a building, but the parking may be around the corner — or half a mile away.”
The company laid the groundwork for its contact-free technology before COVID-19 hit and interest in the system skyrocketed as the health crisis ramped up. Skillett, former CEO of Citizens Parking, the second-largest parking company in the U.S., said it has also helped ease traffic congestion.
“We did an independent study where we set up navigation to parking areas through the Waze platform,” he said. “After nine months, navigation to those parking facilities increased by 40%.”
Spaces’ parking technology is in use in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and Chicago.
“We’re doing about 17,000 transactions a day,” Skillett said. “By the end of the next 12 months, we expect to have over 1,000 locations in 25 cities around the country.”
Other parking solutions
Spaces isn’t the only technology to address parking issues.
The Parken app helps travelers find and reserve a parking space, while also allowing hosts to make extra money by offering their unused parking spaces for rent. Users download the app, register and pay a reservation fee to secure parking close to their destination.
Once reserved, the spot remains secure through the duration of their reserved parking window.
Another app called ParkHelp is designed to ensure that commercial and mixed-used properties have expandable and adaptable parking options. A national survey of tenants revealed that parking is a top amenity. Without efficient and plentiful parking, access to businesses becomes limited.