Despite countless people stating that they want to live in more peaceful environments, many choose an urban lifestyle to this date due to convenience. This also means that the available space to park families’ vehicles continues to become scarcer, leading to large parking lots or, more commonly, high-rise parking garages becoming more commonplace in many places.
Human attendants may still operate smaller parking lots in rural communities and smaller towns. However, the facilities in and around cities are moving away from manual control systems, automating their parking and access control systems. Increased parking demands lead to the need for more sophisticated parking systems – something ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras play an important part in.
This article will look at these systems and introduce Adaptive Recognition, a company leading the industry in multi-featured license plate recognition cameras.
Human Attendants Issuing Tickets and Collecting Payments
Despite automated parking and access control systems being more convenient, there are still plenty of examples of traditional parking systems. Granted, it’s obsolete in the 21st century, but this arrangement is satisfactory for small facilities in rural areas and small towns. Overall, it’s a pretty simple system, mainly used for impromptu sports events, concerts, etc., that lacks established parking facilities. In these situations, we’re mostly talking about someone’s field or an off-hours store parking lot where people pay a one-time fee for the duration of the event they’re attending.
Systems Using Various Types of Automation
There are several ways to automate parking access control systems, all of which with their respective strengths. However, if we need to emphasize some of them, there are three that are worth mentioning:
- Systems using cards with embedded RFID chips
- Systems relying on windshield/license plate/bumper stickers or transponders
- Systems based on ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology.
These systems, especially the first two, work well in a facility where many users are regular parkers who pay a monthly fee to use the lot or garage with no time limit. Others may have parking privileges attached to a space they rent or own, perhaps an apartment or office space. And, of course, there are people with disabilities who can park their cars in the disabled-only parking spots.
If a parker with an established relationship still pays by the hour, these systems can log their entries and exits, and bill them on a monthly basis or, perhaps, deduct payment automatically from a credit card or bank account.
In larger facilities – parking lots/garages capable of housing 250+ vehicles – the operator usually offers expedited access to recurring parkers. Automated parking access control systems are most valuable to preferred customers when they can skip long lines of transient parkers waiting to enter.
Sometimes a ticket to a sports event includes parking privileges. In that case, the parking access control system can be set to recognize the credential attached to the ticket. If it’s an ANPR-based system, the purchaser just has to enter their license plate number when they buy the ticket. The camera at the parking gate automatically grants access after finding their plate number in the database of registrants.
Automated parking systems make life easier for all, whether parking facility operators or their customers. Even traffic passing the entrance benefits from automated parking systems by reducing lines of cars waiting to access a parking garage, preventing traffic disruption, and keeping up parkers. More impressively, any of these systems can operate with no regular attention by facility personnel – provided that they’re designed and set up correctly.
Types of Automated Parking Systems
RFID-Activated Parking Access Control Systems
RFID-based systems operate by having a reader at the parking entrance that recognizes the data embedded into the chip of a card carried by the parker or printed on a sticker attached to a car’s windshield, license plate, or bumper. In other systems, a transponder is issued to the parker and can be carried by the driver or attached to the car’s windshield.
Obviously, these systems work only for parkers with an established relationship with the facility’s operator, e.g., inhabitants of a condo with its dedicated garage. Transient parkers must take a ticket upon entering and pay for their parking when they exit.
The Most Sophisticated Parking Access Control Systems Use ANPR
The benefits of using plate-reading cameras for parking systems are several:
- Nothing unique needs to be attached to customers’ cars
- The system works equally well with irregular parkers and recurring drivers
- License plate data is acquired even from dirty, smudged, or bent plates
- Entry and exit are simpler and faster, eliminating bottleneck situations at barriers
- No action is required from the driver.
ANPR-based parking access control systems offer all parking facility users a seamless, utterly hassle-free experience. This makes customers happy, and what makes customers happy makes the facility owner happy. Even city traffic officials and passing motorists benefit from less congestion on the street caused by people waiting to enter the facility.
ANPR cameras or plain IP cameras attached to an ANPR system read the license plates of entering cars and compare the vehicle ID with relevant databases to determine if it belongs to a contract parker. If so, no further action is required of the system. The user continues with whatever arrangement they have with the parking facility and parks with no visible participation by the facility’s staff.
If the vehicle belongs to a non-recurring parker, the system captures its plate number and stores it. When the car leaves the facility, it’s subject to a parking fee, which the driver pays upon or before exiting. Again, except for paying at the exit, no action is required of the driver or facility personnel.
Interestingly, ANPR-based systems can work in less conventional parking sports like open-access parking areas. In that case, however, the presence of human attendants may be required. That doesn’t mean we are back to leaving chalk marks on the vehicle’s tire, though. In fact, there are plenty of examples of mobile ANPR technology leveraged in these situations. To learn more about ANPR used at open-access parking areas, read the story of a U.S. parking lot here.
In this article, we’ve discussed some basics of the most popular technologies for parking access control systems. Adaptive Recognition’s website is a good resource for more information on ANPR-based options. They have led the industry in electronic ID tools of all kinds since 1991. Clicking the contact button on any page on their site will get you in touch with their experts to discuss your parking or access control system needs.
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