Rethinking 'Security' When You Go Gateless
Gateless parking technology has tremendous advantages over traditional parking management systems. To start it provides a less intrusive parking experience translating to more convenience for parkers. In parallel, gateless technology comes with lower upfront cost and no long-term maintenance or repair costs for hardware and parking gate control equipment.
But yet parking gates persist.
What’s really at stake here
One of the main arguments for keeping parking gates is security. The second is not wanting to change from a long-standing business practice. Or is 'security' made a bigger issue simply by those who don’t like change...or don’t understand it?
The reality is that the gate is antiquated and illusionary way to provide security for properties and customers. And it’s more security theater, creating the perception of safety when it’s really not doing much. (The only exception is garage style roll-down gates to limit unauthorized access after hours or overnight.) The reason for gates is simple: compliance. If people can’t get their cars out without paying, then compliance increases.
Thankfully, we live in a technologically-advanced society that provides the tools for drivers to comply. We’ve got smartphones and location-based capabilities to give drivers an easy and convenient way to find parking spots, make payments and extend their stays. Automated enforcement tools and LPR camera technology have also made the process of verifying payment incredibly low-cost, and manageable at scale.
Why put a gate up to force compliance when most people will comply if given an easy way to do so? It seems silly to us — and it cloaks the issue of safety behind a false sense of security.
Security beyond the gate
The conversation developers and property owners should be having doesn’t revolve around whether they need gates to bolster security. Rather, it’s how to keep customers and properties safe with tools and tactics beyond the gate.
Parking operators have a responsibility to keep customers as safe as possible. While the varied conditions of open parking facilities can make this challenging — a garage has a different security profile than an open lot on a city block — the goal is the same: safety and security, above all.
There are several tactics that can be used to push security beyond the gate and evolve our thinking:
Instant customer communication. A major benefit of pushing the parking management experience into the smartphone is app and mobile messaging. After a transaction, parkers' smartphones can easily be sent building directories for door-to-door access, access codes for special events, or pedestrian re-entry after hours.
24/7 customer service. When customers can text or call if an issue arises, there’s a quicker pathway to security - and a better overall experience.
Enhanced staffing presence. By using a different staffing model for enforcement checks with professional personnel, coupled with the latest technology like photo enforcement, dash cams and GPS tracking, you gain a measurable safety presence throughout the property.
Call boxes. Not every lot has the infrastructure or resources for 24/7 staffing. Traditional call boxes can be helpful in these cases, especially where cell signal may be spotty. Clearly marked and well-lit boxes can be lifesavers in times of trouble.
Cameras with license plate recognition and 24/7 video monitoring. These are incredible theft deterrents. And, as AI improves, remote surveillance can identify irregularities without needing constant human monitoring.
Good lighting. One of the most affordable security solutions is also one of the most effective: lighting. With a well-lit parking lot, customers can see their surroundings more clearly and there are fewer hiding places for bad people to hide.
These are just a few of the tactics and tools that parking operators have at their disposal. It’s no longer about trying to keep the outside world out and the customer in (it's about making paying for parking easier and using technology to ensure that they’ve paid).
Today’s parking experience puts the customer at the center of everything - and does it without compromising safety and security, spending more or making the experience more intrusive and cumbersome. Modern technology, coupled with professionally staffed operations, and enhanced security tools, ensures that a parking operation is as accessible, and secure as possible.