- Using IP for communications between the access control and parking components is an absolute requirement, and happily one that most current products and systems are able to meet.
- The use of standard formats for data interchange will allow nearly any two systems to be interfaced, and will do so without the usual worries about compatible libraries, operating systems, or development tool chains. At my company, we use XML.
- The system should have open APIs that are accessible from any computer language, operating system, or hardware platform.
For situations where there may already be a parking solution in place, using an interface capability like those described above can keep the “user” and “parker” databases in the access and parking systems synchronized. So, even if parking is not included in your contract directly, this synchronization capability adds value to the integrator’s proposal and may spell the difference between winning and losing a job.
Picking the Right Opportunity
Picking the right opportunity is perhaps the most important success factor of all in looking at parking applications for access control. Parking management systems are, without a doubt, fully evolved, complex software and hardware systems that are purpose-built for the myriad needs of the parking industry. However, not every parking opportunity requires all of that complexity, and not every customer has the budget to add an expensive parking solution on top of their other security needs.
Realizing the Savings
To recap, savings from using access control solutions to handle parking management are readily apparent in several areas, starting with lower installation costs and lower equipment and training expenditures. The chief advantage here is leveraging infrastructure that is already in place for access, and understanding how it can be used to manage a population of permanent and transient parkers. Customer savings continue well after the purchase by reducing TCO expenses, and these saving provide further justification for the use of the access system.
The most exciting aspect of employing access control to manage parking is the opportunity to enhance the customer’s top line by transforming a cost—security—into a profit center through using it as the basis for gaining and maximizing parking revenue.