Access control and parking management often have, at best, an arms-length relationship in facility planning and security. Revenue-generating parking management solutions typically use different hardware, different software, and different computer systems than the access control systems found in the structures surrounding the parking facility. For many applications, this expensive and unproductive duplication of equipment and credentialing can be avoided by extending the scope of access control systems to include the parking garage or lot. The astute access control integrator can now pick up a job that might otherwise have gone out to a stand-alone parking system installed by someone else.
It’s All About the ROI
The economics of the situation are straightforward, and allow the integrator to present a compelling ROI case to the customer. Initial installation costs are greatly reduced because a single control infrastructure can be leveraged against multiple uses within the facility. In other words, the same control panels and IT systems that manage access control can be extended to parking management for the cost of just an additional door or gate controller—rather than the full cost of another system dedicated to parking.
But ROI doesn’t end with just a comparison of up-front expenses. ROI should be calculated throughout the life of the system. Immediately after installation, training expenses are reduced because new employees learn only one system, not two. Operating expenses -- the single largest cost of system ownership -- are greatly reduced through savings in electricity and related IT cost-of-ownership burdens throughout the lifetime of the equipment. It is well accepted throughout the IT community that the initial purchase price of a computer system reflects only about 5-10 percent of the lifetime operating costs of that system, which makes the reduction in systems proliferation a prime candidate for ROI opportunities.
What’s the Technology?
A natural question then arises, what has changed in the industry to make such an integration of previously unrelated systems possible?
The single largest change is the emergence of IP-based access control, which makes it possible for the access system to provide centralized management of one or more physical facilities over the Internet or IP cellular networks. The use of IP networks greatly reduces the need for proximity between the control system and the panels, gates, or other physical devices used to collect credentials or control physical access. IP access control also has the potential to deliver much better interfaces, or APIs, to allow integration between vertical parking solutions that can re-use the underlying access control infrastructure, as we will discuss in greater detail below.
Against this background of expanded possibilities, what does an ideal opportunity for this integration look like?
One attractive candidate consists of facilities with a mix of long and short-term parking, tenant access, and individual suite access. These are great opportunities for “garage-to-suite” solutions that allow an individual to make use of the same credential when parking, entering base building ingress points, and gaining access to a tenant suite. This scenario presents the greatest opportunity to leverage the existing access control investment in equipment, procedures, and credentials, perhaps even creating a value-added amenity for the property manager.
A second candidate for integrated access and parking management are facilities that currently have no parking solution at all, and are looking for ways to enhance revenues without a large up-front investment. Our own recent experience with a Web-based parking management solution found the payback period for one such client was less than 5 months, winning the integrator not only the original job but several referrals for similar systems over the next year.
A New Buyer