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  • Data Analytics

Parking Analytics Can Support Data-Driven City Management

Eric Woods
Sep 08, 2020

Guidehouse Insights smart city

City management is a constant challenge in balancing finite resources, conflicting demands, and priorities. Diverse stakeholders have different perspectives on how resources (e.g., people, places, services, or infrastructure) should be best deployed and funded. Understanding how assets are used is an important step to ensure the needs of as many stakeholders are met as possible and that no group is unfairly disadvantaged.

Parking is a good example of a city resource often taken for granted, but it is part of a complex process for managing user demand and allocating resources. This has been highlighted during the coronavirus outbreak as cities look to repurpose roads and parking spaces and provide access to emergency services, pick-up, and delivery service for retail and food outlets. Repurposed roads also encourage walking and cycling over car use.

Parking is not only an issue for street management, it is also important in allowing access to nature and recreation facilities. As more people looked to escape cities for recreation, popular scenic areas have come under increased pressure to manage parking and traffic loads.

Santa Cruz Uses Data to Improve Parking Management

Starting in July 2018, the City of Santa Cruz (California) has used video monitoring and parking analytics to understand how one of its most popular parking destinations can be better utilized for all visitors. Overlooking Monterey Bay, the Cowell’s Overview parking lot is popular with tourists, surfers, and local families. Ensuring good access and a well-managed facility is a priority for the city management team. While there was a lot anecdotal information about use of the parking lot, the team wanted to take a data-driven approach to understand what was really happening and how people used the parking spaces on West Cliff Drive.

The city decided to install sensor technology to gather data such as usage, duration of stay, time of day, and other key metrics. More than 100,000 parking events were captured and analyzed over the first 15 months of the project. This has provided important insights into utilization levels at different times, average stay times, and specific groups of users such as the long stayers and their effect on availability. The project team was also able to look at correlations between crime reports and use of the parking lot, helping them to identify high incident periods when neighborhood integrity and public safety was compromised. The city has also seen how patterns have changed since the coronavirus outbreak.

Join Us and Learn More

In the forthcoming Guidehouse Insights webinar, Using Parking Analytics to Better Manage Public Space, I will discuss Santa Cruz’s project and the lessons it provides for other cities. The panel will also have Mark Dettle, Director of Public Works, Santa Cruz, and Al Ramadan, Community Member, Santa Cruz. We will be joined by Jason Schulz, Product Manager, Transportation and Mobility Solutions at Verizon.

We will investigate how the city uses sensors and data analytics to gather a comprehensive picture of daily usage, how that helps shape parking policy, and changes they have seen since the coronavirus outbreak.

Please join us on September 29, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Click here to register.