LPR and AI Are Taking Parking Management to The Next Level

H.S.  Lee, European Business Development Manager, IDIS explores next-generation video tech set to make parking operations even more secure and efficient.


LPR continues to add efficiencies - and improved security - to parking management operations. And we now see some exciting new applications emerging too, taking advantage of advances in edge AI camera technology.

Car parks, of course, include not just those large public facilities that we all use – in city centers, and at shopping malls, for example - but also at airports and other closed, private locations where higher value vehicles tend to be parked, often for longer periods. These include premium valet parking facilities, where valets park and retrieve vehicles on behalf of customers, and private parking bays at upscale locations including resort hotels and residential developments.

In all these applications LPR has already streamlined and automated key functions, from controlling or denying access, registering entry and exit times, and calculating parking fees, to issuing violation tickets. The result has been reduced workloads for parking staff, reduced risk of human error, and reduced likelihood of disputes arising around payments, thanks error-free calculation and collection of parking fees, and more easily searchable data.

All this is supporting more efficient and profitable operations and has transformed the parking sector in recent years.

Drivers have benefited too, enjoying a more streamlined parking experience, including frictionless and contactless systems so that vehicles can simply be driven straight in, and drivers even guided by lighting to signal free parking bays.

But now, thanks to further improvements in the accuracy and reliability of AI video analytics, and the greater flexibility provided by specialist parking and edge AI cameras, even more new benefits are being developed.

For example, new parking guidance cameras, further support secure parking management, and to enhance the parking experience for drivers. Featuring multiple and omnidirectional lenses with built-in LED indicators, the cameras can simultaneously detect up to eight parking bays along with traffic corridors, to facilitate efficient direction of vehicles to specifically assigned or free spaces.

New flexible AI cameras can be integrated to handle LPR functions and detect irregular human activity, using automated line-crossing and loitering detection analytics too.  

This can be used to improve both safety and security and, as a result, to reduce liability. For example, pedestrians taking short-cuts through vehicle-only access routes are at increased risk of accidents and, human nature being what it is, such short-cuts can quickly become established as regular routes. Automated detection of unsafe pedestrian activity can make it easier to prevent, through re-designed site layouts, through intervention by staff on-site, or through PA caution announcements which can be manual or automated.

The same detection and prevention approach can be taken to manage problems with vagrants using car parks as shelters or places to hang out. While the vulnerability of homeless people should be remembered, and organizations should beware of the negative publicity that can come with heavy-handed approaches to deterring vulnerable rough sleepers; better solutions are needed than allowing car parks to become shelters, because this can increase the risk of accidents, anti-social behavior, and crime, that make users feel less safe – particularly for women and those with vulnerabilities.

Another important risk that new camera technology is helping to address is the problem of damage to vehicles, both accidental damage and deliberate vandalism. In addition, opportunists and increasingly organized criminal gangs are targeting high-value assets – with brand new cars and luxury vehicles being an attractive target as well as their valuable components.

These can be persistent problems for high-value cars, particularly when they are left in public car parks, which very often leads to customers being anxious about leaving their cars and their contents during nights out, and for extended business trips or vacations.

New LPR solutions will make it possible to tackle this problem, with analytics allowing parked vehicles to be instantly located by cameras that provide high-definition footage of the scene. These are further enhanced with edge analytics that will detect whenever a person or another vehicle approaches a parked car. This will not only make it faster for car park staff to investigate incidents, but it also opens the way for vehicle owners themselves to be able to remotely view and verify activity using phone apps.

This will work in much the same way people use apps for domestic intruder system alerts, to remotely view and playback video footage from their homes, or video doorbells to check on who is approaching their property. For owners of higher value vehicles especially, whether they are parked in public or private car parks, remote viewing services will be welcomed, not least because it will give them greater control over investigating any damage or theft but also peace of mind.

As camera technology continues to evolve, we will see several new parking management solutions of this kind being introduced to benefit car park owners and users – indeed, right now some of these innovations are being tested by major car park operators in Europe that see significant potential in rolling them out - so expect to read about more innovations soon.

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