Built for the Future

Oct. 27, 2008
Parking Garage Management Company Integrates Audio, Video and Revenue Control Technologies for Enhanced Security and Customer Service

Founded in 1997 by merging two companies with more than 50 years of parking management experience, InterPark provides parking management services at more than 350 facilities across the nation in targeted markets. InterPark offers a full complement of services, ranging from garage management and consulting on operations to design and equipment selection.

InterPark management is dedicated to ensuring that both customer satisfaction and asset performance are handled effectively across all the company's properties. They are serious about cash control, customer service and maintenance — no matter the size of the garage. To support its commitment to improve its customer service capabilities, InterPark searched for a technology solution that would integrate in-garage capabilities for push-to-talk audio, closed circuit television (CCTV), and revenue control in order to increase operator productivity and garage profitability. It needed to integrate real-time audio and video in such a way that customers could be connected to operators within a single garage or from a remote location. It also wanted a solution that would tie together gate control and revenue accountability, but at the same time provide a simple user interface for garage operators.

Historically, when a patron needed assistance, he or she pushed a call-box button to be connected to an operator on the premises. Often, the operator did not have a visual image of that patron. If the patron was having trouble with a ticket or gate, the operator would manually override the revenue system, open the gate and allow the patron to exit — possibly without paying and certainly without triggering a log or audit trail of the incident.

The parking industry is served by large independent suppliers who are experts in their respective areas, such as emergency alert equipment, revenue control software, gates and control equipment. InterPark management chose Honeywell's portfolio of cameras, power supplies and distribution solutions, audio/video servers, video management systems and call boxes to create a solution that would integrate with equipment already in place to increase operator productivity and improve garage profitability.

The Solution

In the solution installed at InterPark's Philadelphia garage, Honeywell's DVM (Digital Video Manager) was deployed to provide garage management with a historical log of video information. The system is capable of storing events and transactions for more than 30 days. Honeywell packaged its core products with new software called Attendant Commander to create a solution for InterPark that integrates audio and video information with an operator and revenue-control interface. This solution connects garage patrons and operators (either on- or off-premise) using digital audio that is synchronized to corresponding video of that patron. The operators can still control a transaction, but the software now forces them to provide a reason code for the transactional decision. Then, based on the reason code selected, the software works in the background to automate the response of the control system.

In addition, Honeywell worked with NetStar Telecommunications, Houston, to provide the Philadelphia facility with a closed wireless broadband network that enables audio communication between patrons and operators. When operators leave the central office, they carry a handheld PDA loaded with the Attendant Commander software. Voice calls are routed to attendant stations and to the PDA simultaneously, thus allowing calls to be answered promptly and reason codes communicated automatically to the revenue control system. “An additional access point was added in the computer room to give coverage to the office area and ground-level, Pay-on-Foot Station areas," says John Agathon, vice president of sales for InterPark. We were able to migrate all equipment into one secure rack as planned.”

Built for the Future

The work done in Philadelphia and lessons learned are being put to good use. InterPark recently upgraded its call center to handle calls from more than 100 facilities. The call center will eventually process real-time audio and video from remote locations, allowing off-site operators to better serve their patrons.

InterPark will expand the solution to other locations over time and will connect many of the sites over high-bandwidth telecom connections to redundant monitoring and customer service centers. This capability will deliver substantial cost-savings and measurable improvements in operator effectiveness while enhancing the customer service that InterPark patrons have grown to expect.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our business and Garage Attendant helps us do that. Honeywell uses their expertise in creating solutions and adapting them to each unique customer to ensure that we have the right configuration in each location," says Bob Johnson, director of location systems for InterPark. "They walk the site, design the system and specify the equipment, and then bring in the right partners to assist with deployment and service after the installation.”

Having accurate details and audit information for attendant transactions has made an impact — in Philadelphia, Interpark anticipates better revenue tracking and expects the solution to pay for itself. Add the potential to share personnel across more locations without sacrificing customer service and the Garage Attendant solution offers the potential for real impact to InterPark's bottom line.

“We expect to add Garage Attendant to many more facilities and hope to extract as much value across the board as we have in Philadelphia ," Johnson says.

John Waldron is marketing manager for Honeywell Vindicator Security Solutions. He has spent the past 10 years in high-tech electronics R&D and product development. Brian Holmes is senior sales director with Honeywell's Vindicator Security Solutions in Austin, Texas, and has more than 20 years of experience in high-security and complex solution design.