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Parking Gates Aren't for Security

Articles

One of the biggest misconceptions about parking gates is that they secure the lot. 

Most people see the gate and assume that it’s to keep people out - but really, gate arms are all about keeping people in. By placing the gate between the customer and the exit, you ensure that they pay before leaving. 

In other words, parking gates are for revenue control rather than security. After all, a gate that you can walk around doesn’t provide any security on the property! Nothing is stopping them from entering or exiting the garage via the gate arm.

The only exception to this is with “garage door style” parking with roll-down gates. These gates block unknown vehicles or one-time parkers, which preserves parking for only paying long-term customers. These gates also function for security, as they keep people out just as well as they keep people in. 

Yet, roll-down doors aren’t realistic for many properties. In reality, there are other more effective ways to maintain security in a parking lot or garage. Let’s look at some of the other problems with gates - and a few solutions that can provide actual security. 

The problems with gates

While gates are meant to exist for revenue control, they are full of vulnerabilities; they also cause headaches. Not only do they require maintenance to keep in working order, but a broken gate also leaves a bad final impression as a driver leaves the lot. It puts operators on the defensive, both needing to calm frayed nerves when drivers get stuck waiting and return the gate to service swiftly.

There’s also the cost of drivers damaging the gates. Whether intentionally or not, gate arms are expensive to replace. Some more so than others: when you have a short arm that folds in on itself mechanically, it’s much more costly than a traditional wooden or composite gate arm. 

Between the cost of maintaining and replacing broken gate arms, plus the potential for a poor customer experience, gate arms are just not worth it. There are far fewer reasons for parking operators to invest heavily in gate arms that don’t always work the way they should with today’s technology. Instead, it’s time to think beyond the gate.

Think beyond the gate

Gateless digital parking isn’t a dream: it’s a reality. We consider ourselves pioneers in this space for many of the reasons listed above: gates don’t provide security, frustrate drivers, and cost operators money. 

So what would happen if we just got rid of the gate? Nothing! Revenue won’t suffer. Going gateless gives operators a chance to reinvent their business around technology. By eliminating tickets, you eliminate one of the most significant pain points of legacy parking: delays in entering and exiting.

The impact of intelligent technology reaches far beyond the gate:

  • Revenue management. Parking has traditionally been a time-based business: you pay for how long you stay. But what happens when parking gets to build out pricing tiers that reflect the inherence value that drivers place on specific spots? With AI-based parking rules that designate certain spots as premium, the entire lot becomes revenue optimized based on amenities: distance from elevators, floor level, etc. Value-based pricing changes the profit picture completely.  

  • Compliance management. With innovative apps and fixed LPR cameras featuring license plate scanning technology, retailers and operators can scan license plates within parking lots to identify cars that have overstayed or repeatedly violated parking rules. With that insight, each property can ensure compliance and control revenue - while protecting the safety of customers by identifying security issues automatically.

  • Parking on demand. As parking is purchased on smartphones like everything else, your property has to be ready to welcome drivers - no matter which app they book on. But if your proprietary gate technology requires custom integrations, it’s not realistic to support on-demand parking via an app. Without gate arms, you can use visual detection to verify prepayment and to identify overstayers.

It all comes down to fast, open access for an elevated, frictionless tenant and visitor experience. Drive in, park, pay, and go - with no parking gate in sight!

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