I was thrilled when the Daily Mail reported that Heathrow is to become the world's first airport to install technology that will guide drivers to empty slots and also show them where they had parked when leaving. The technology, reportedly, allows you to find your vehicle simply by inserting your parking ticket into a machine that has a 32in screen displaying a 3-D map. This would certainly help people stop running all over the car park looking for their cars. I am sure it has happened to you. You walk into the car park lot and head in the wrong direction. Then you realise the mistake, feeling silly you head back right to where you came from.
Technology giant Siemens, partnered with the British firm Highlight Parking Systems Limited, are the driving force behind this novel project. In a way the technology is not entirely new. Siemens is known for its advanced Siemens Traffic Solutions which are integrations of various technologies and services for modern traffic management and mobility in urban settings. Siemens sophisticated parking solutions solve the problem of finding car parks and securing smooth urban traffic flow.
I said this development is new yet not too novel because it is part of the Siemens' pioneered parking technology. Siemens intelligent transportation systems prevent avoidable traffic, shift unavoidable traffic and conserve the environment. These systems include: Dynamic parking guidance systems - LCD displays and prism billboards rapidly direct drivers to free parking spaces in the city, significantly reducing inner-city traffic, Car park systems - the modular SiPark guidance system ensures smooth traffic flow in car parks and on parking lots, using ultrasonic sensors and arrow displays.
I have been reflecting on this development the whole week asking myself why anybody would invest so much money in such a venture. Of course it occurred to me that we take many things for granted because they look so natural to us. Thinking about it, a good parking space is difficult to find. It needs to be isolated, but at the same time you don't want your car to stand out. It needs to be in a well lit area and near other cars, but away from the prying eyes of criminals. You might be tempted, by cheap rates or convenient proximity, to park in places that are ignored by law enforcement and ticket personnel, but you must assess the risk involved.
Better to pay than be sorry if your car is vandalised. Unless you know the history of a place, you might wrongly think that your chosen space offers no particular temptations to criminals. Some cars are poor at retaining their alluring paint work.
So how do you choose where to park? Parking has become a major issue in human development. This is true for both individuals and companies. Businesses are hesitant to locate within certain areas of the downtown because of limited parking for their employees, customers and clients. Customers and shoppers prefer going shopping in places where they are guaranteed a parking space. In some cities, Commercial developers are hesitant to purchase and improve a property. These properties can be in prime locations but a lack of parking can potentially reduce their value. This is due to concern by would-be tenants that they might have problems finding convenient parking.
I have digressed from my original story. Going back to this technological development, there are a few things to say. So how will the system work? It is touted that when a driver arrives at the car park barrier, a numberplate recognition system takes the registration and automatically prints it on the ticket. At the start of your trip, the same technology will also lead you to the nearest empty space - again displayed on a screen map to save time and carbon emissions. These Siemens Pay and display machines accept cash cards as well as coins, and enable constant control of the unit status.
So ideally your parking spot should be shaded from the sun. Just as you want to park easily and safely, you also want to leave quickly and as hassle-free as possible. Therefore the quality you should look for in a parking place is flexibility. In terms of actual parking spaces, there is a problem because cars have got bigger but car park spaces don't seem to. This demands some problem solving skills. Actually choosing the right parking place is an essential survival skill.