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How Do Parking Guidance Systems Work? (Simple Guide)

James McKellar May 18, 2021 7 min read

There are a lot of things we never thought would be needed at certain points in time, but now cannot fathom our lives without. Some things make our lives easier, and some remove problems we never knew we had.

In this vein, came the concept of parking guidance systems which can be seen as a green initiative, a form of efficiency, a part of vehicle access control, or just a way to minimise our parking stress. 

Whatever the reason is, these systems have become popular in parking structures across the world. 

This guide will look at Parking Guidance Systems’ impact, some features, benefits, and where they can be used. We'll cover: 

  • Parking Guidance Systems Basics
  • Features of Parking Guidance Systems
  • Parking Guidance Systems Technology
  • Parking Guidance Systems Benefits 
  • Industries for Parking Guidance Systems

What are Parking Guidance Systems?

Parking Guidance Systems (PGS) are a form of technology that is designed for drivers providing them with real time parking information.

A PGS is an advanced form of Car Counting or vehicle detection technology that provides dynamic data to facilitate vehicle circulation within a car park. Although these are typically seen in multi-storey car parks, they can be used in different locations too.

These systems use a few different components to maximise their usage, from communication to traffic monitoring, to Variable Message Signs (VMS).

Being able to quickly and easily find a parking space has a range of benefits, which we will go into shortly; The most obvious one is removing the stress of finding an empty parking space.

This is a form of traffic monitoring which is exactly what is says on the tin, studying both incoming and outgoing traffic with various programs and data. 

With the increased interest in collecting and utilising data to better improve interactions and customer experiences, the evolution to the parking industry was inevitable.


Key Components of Parking Guidance Systems

There are a few different parts that make up a parking guidance system, and the majority of systems need these components to operate at maximum efficiency.

Needless to say, each system is a little different, but the core concept is the same, so let’s look at the elements of a PGS.

Cars - as simple as this sounds, you will not be able to count and manage vehicles without them being present. The system relies on their being new vehicular ‘data’ to operate effectively.

Signs - the usage of parking signage is a core part of helping people find an open space in a car parking structure. They often provide the information at entry, and throughout your parking journey.

Detectors - the technology that dictates if there is a car in a space, this can be a few different variations. But basically has the ability to know when a car is in the space and when it has left it.

Indicators - these will typically be the LED lights above an empty spot that highlight or 'indicate' where you can park. As a rule of thumb, green is used for a vacant spot, and red for an unavailable space.

Control Systems - this is the hub where the information is gathered and distributed to the different elements. Collecting the data about cars and free parking spots, passing it onto the signs and thus the drivers.

Network Link - the type of technology can differ from model to model, but the core premise is that the whole system and parking spaces are linked so they can all communicate real-time data.


How Parking Guidance Systems Work

Using a combination of technologies, Parking Guidance Systems can help get drivers to open spaces faster and with much less effort. 

With a mixture of traffic monitoring, Variable Message Signs (VMS), onsite communication, and vehicle processing, PGS create a simple yet functional parking experience.

One of the most common ways Parking Guidance Systems works are by this process.

  1. A car is ‘scanned’ when it enters the car park, this can be done via a special ticket machine, or just via the entrance.

  2. Variable Message Signs direct the drivers to the open spaces. This can be via telling them how many spaces are on their level, in a certain section of the car park, or even down each row of the parking structure 

  3. Parking Space Indicators are used to highlight where the free spaces are. Typically the use of green LEDs are implemented but this can vary.

  4. Once a car parks in the space, special sensors pickup the vehicle in the parking spot and reduce the number of free spaces available. The LED will often turn red to indicate the space has been taken.

  5. The driver exits the vehicle, the location of the car is typically saved in a temporary database, then the driver proceeds to reach their destination on foot.
  6. Upon returning to the car park some Parking Guidance Systems will even be able to help the driver ‘Find My Car’ via the pay or help stations in the car park.
  7. When the car is fully out of the space and cleared the proximity, the spot will be once again marked as free and a new vehicle will be directed there.

This is just a hypothetical run through of how a Parking Guidance System works, to put into context how they work in a real-life scenario. 

Obviously each system has its own set-up but this should give a good example of how the technology works.


What are the Benefits of Parking Guidance Systems?

Parking Guidance Systems offer a wide variety of benefits to both the drivers and the operators, we are going to look at a few of the core reasons for implementing one of these systems.

We have chosen to focus on benefits for the drivers and the company who have installed the Parking Guidance System.

Read More: How Does Parking Management Software Work?

Driver Benefits

Lower Emissions - due to shorter time to park there will be less emissions into the air, making the car park much greener and environmentally conscious. With people finding their spaces quicker their fuel consumption is less too.

Quicker - we have all been in a situation when we arrive somewhere early or on time and are made late by not being able to find a space. Parking Guidance Systems help speed up finding a space, reduce your travel time and means you can arrive at your destination quicker.

Reduces Stress - creating an easier parking  environment removes the stress of trying to find a space or seeing an open spot and finding a small car in it. Knowing you will be guided to an open spot makes the whole process simpler.

Company Benefits 

Real Time - due to their design, Parking Guidance Systems operate in real time. This means that people parking will get up to date information on where the spots are and even how many spaces are on their multi-storey floor via variable message signs. 

Provides Analytics - prior to the introduction of smart technology and PGS, car parks would not have much data on the cars within them. Take for instance a pay and display car park, there is no real data other than the money collected by the machine or number of transactions. 

Efficient - one of the most obvious benefits is the fact that this will improve the flow of traffic and be much more efficient. If everyone knows where there is an open space, they will not be circling looking for one and delaying their parking.


What Industries Can Benefit From Parking Guidance Systems?

Parking Guidance Systems, as the name suggests, can be implemented anywhere people need to park, but this is not entirely true, as their value will not be apparent for smaller car parks.

With this in mind, we are going to quickly outline a few examples of places that could benefit from utilising a Parking Guidance System within their parking. 

  • Companies with Multiple Car Parks
  • Universities or Displaced Campuses 
  • Theme Parks
  • Out of Town Shopping Centres and Plazas
  • Central City Multi-Storey Car Parks
  • Airports
  • Train Stations
  • Bus Stations
  • Transit Hubs
  • Large Gyms and Health Clubs
  • Outlets 
  • Homeware Stores (I.e. IKEA or Homebase)

Basically, anywhere that has a large amount of car park spaces and a large flow of traffic in and out of it. This is important for retail to create a better shopping experience and encourage repeat visits. 

The ability to reduce stress and design a car park that is easier to park your vehicle is instrumental to the transportation industry. When travelling people are much more concerned about time and getting a spot quickly.

Parking Guidance Systems are just one part of the larger vehicle access control bubble, and can be beneficial for everyone involved, from guests, to patrons, to staff, to your company as a whole.

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It seems that people and vehicle access control is an incredibly complex world using hard to understand technology, yet it impacts so many of the environments we interact with on a daily basis.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll break down access control, the benefits, and drawbacks as well, including expert insight based on over 30 years experience in the industry operating as an independent British company. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

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James McKellar

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