Covid-19 has starkly reminded us of the disruption that pandemics can bring to daily life. Things that we take for granted such as walking into a store to buy groceries, heading to a restaurant for an evening with friends, or just the routine act of entering and parking your vehicle in a parking lot when at the mall or the office. In a time when avoiding contact has become a crucial aspect of maintaining personal safety and hygiene, the demand for use of contactless solutions has risen to the point that everyone realizes its importance.
In parking, the issuance of paper receipts – whether it is from a POS device or a Kiosk, or even just a paper ticket written by hand by your local neighbourhood parking contractor were often the norm. With the need to reduce contact, solutions that could offer a contactless alternative have provided parking lot owners and operators a strong alternative that allows them to build confidence among visitors. This is especially essential for Malls and even Offices that need to provide a Covid19-safe environment for visitors and tenants.
With the unlocking of the economy beginning, there are a number of contactless solutions that could be adopted by parking lot owners and operators to improve safety and hygiene. The following are some of the main contactless solutions for parking:
1. QR code based Check-in and Check-out
Parking management systems could be made contactless for users and parking attendants via the adoption of QR codes that enable check-in and even check-out. The Phoneix Group, one of India’s best known Mall groups, has deployed a QR code based parking solution at its Entry. This is part of their SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for assuring customers of a secure and great shopping experience. At ValetEZ, we have deployed QR code based parking systems at several of our Mall partner properties allowing users the option of making their parking Entry completely contactless. Parking visitors have the added benefit of being able to pay online via their phone and make digital payments at the Exit, thereby ensuring that social distance is maintained throughout the parking experience.
2. NFC or RFID based Parking Management
NFC (Near Field Communications) cards and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags or cards can also be used in parking lots to regulate the authorised Entry and Exit of frequent visitors or employees. This is another contactless solution that can be used to ensure that parking experience is Covid-safe. These bookings when linked with mobile apps allow for ease of digital payments for parking. In the case of RFID, the entry of FasTag in parking promises to further transform the contactless parking experience given that payments can be made seamlessly. The GMR international airport in Hyderabad which first piloted the FasTag for parking is going live soon. At ValetEZ, several of our parking lot owners and operator partners already use NFC and RFID based parking solutions which can also be combined with other contactless modes such as QR codes to enable a safe parking experience.
3. ANPR based Parking Access
Another contactless solution that could be used in parking is the ANPR (Automated Number Plate Recognition) technology which uses cameras to capture license plates and verify authorised check-in and check-out. While this technology has seen growing adoption globally in recent years, it is relatively expensive and requires a high degree of standardization of license plates, a challenge in the Indian context. ANPR does offer a seamless experience and can be used with parking management systems that enable digital payments to provide a very effective contactless parking solution.
4. Contactless Valet Parking
Even valet parking can be made contactless through a digital valet management system that records bookings and sends details to the visitor via an SMS. The visitor can also use the added convenience of recalling a vehicle through an interactive online tool before reaching the pick-up point and even cancel the recall request if they change their mind. This digital valet management solution makes even a high touch point solution such as valet parking a largely contactless experience, making it both safe and very convenient to use.
Contactless parking solutions are part of the digital transformation that is sweeping the world in the wake of Covid-19. It is likely to grow in prominence well after Covid-19 has ended, given the convenience to parking visitors and cost savings it offers to owners & operators. We at ValetEZ look forward to leading this wave of contactless solutions’ innovation that is required in the post pandemic world!