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PARKING IN 2020 from Page 37


cars are at any moment, and they provide the software that runs our smartphones.


Is it such a big step for them to also know where and how long we park, compute and collect the fees, and distribute the money to the appropriate owner? Some might argue that we have to keep cash in the mix, and


to do so we must have all the equipment we typically see on- and off- street. But is that true? Garages in many downtown areas are at 95%-98% credit card. The only thing keeping them from 100% cashless is changing their signs. (There is an article elsewhere in this issue of PT where a university changed to equipment that accepted credit cards, and within two months, 75% of the transactions were on the cards.)


There are areas in the UK, for instance, where you can’t park your car unless you pay by cellphone. There is no alternative. Sure, pay-by-cell, particularly the signup process, can be a tad clunky now, but we are probably an app away from making that process as smooth as buying a book for your Kindle or Nook. Gateless garages are running today in Australia using license


plate recognition (LPR) to track the ins and outs. It may not be perfect, but where will this technology be in one, two or five years? Luddites like me may find the use of smartphones to pay


for parking or buy a cup of coffee a tad over the top, but why not? I haven’t been inside a bank in 20 years (use direct deposit and ATMs). I don’t write checks but pay all my bills online. I understand that if we choose, my company could get a little terminal, scan all checks we receive through it, and the money will


be instantly deposited in our account – hell, there are ads on TV that show people depositing checks by photographing them on their iPhones.


Can Raetzsch’s vision be too far away? Some say that such technology won’t work in emerging


countries, but I’m not so sure. Many are leapfrogging us now, skipping landlines and going directly to cellphone usage; paying their employees on mag stripe cards that are reloaded at ATMs; and finding Wi-Fi more pervasive in Bangalore, India, than in San Jose, CA.


Business models are changing rapidly. Why should a building owner, a city or a university invest in lane equipment and the like when they can simply contract with a Google or Microsoft and pay as they go?


Once this technology is ready, how long will it take to become pervasive? Hardware we see today could be gone in one lifecycle. My father saw his first airplane when he was 15 years old and


lived to see man walk on the moon. I saw my first color TV when I was about the same age, and now, well, you know. I used 2020 as the date in the scenario that started this story - its only eight years away. Who knows, these changes might come sooner than we think.


John Van Horn is Founder, Publisher and Editor of Parking Today. Contact him at jvh@parkingtoday.com


PT


38


See us at the IPI booth #729


Parking Today www.parkingtoday.com


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