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We’ve all been there before. We hop in our cars to head downtown for the big show, but there’s a problem. We’re running late, and along with thousands of other people, we are hunting for the perfect spot. You know… the one that’s close enough to walk, but not too far and still safe. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just reserve a spot and not think twice about the hassle? Luckily, Jon Ziglar, the CEO of ParkMobile, is here to solve that vexing issue. And on this episode of IT Visionaries, Jon talks how ParkMobile is innovating to make parking a bit more effortless.

Key Takeaways

  • Smart cities that individuals can interact with via apps and smart technology are the way of the future.
  • Parking meters are on their way out the door. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards getting rid of public parking meters in favor of mobile apps.
  • Apps like ParkMobile are increasingly being used to help ease traffic in cities. As this technology evolves and more users adopt it, huge traffic delays may become a problem of the past.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.

For ages, the issue of finding and securing parking in municipalities has angered and frustrated individuals. After all, as most of what we do shifts toward mobile use, shouldn’t parking also be a click away? On this episode of IT Visionaries, ParkMobile CEO Jon Ziglar joined the show to discuss how their app is revolutionizing an archaic necessity, why cities are working with ParkMobile to ease traffic concerns and why their app might be the biggest conduit for smart cities.

ParkMobile is the leading provider for on-demand and prepaid mobile payments for on and off-street reservation parking. Located in more than 3,000 locations, including 35 of the top 100 cities in the United States, ParkMobile’s goal is simple: Eliminate friction, along with the hassle of finding quarters to deposit while increasing convenience for the end-user as they travel city-to-city.

“We’ve built our infrastructure so that the key for us is that all of our apps can work anywhere,” Ziglar said. “We are a network, so think of us as the Visa or the Mastercard of mobility. We really look at ourselves as connecting drivers to services, primarily parking at this point, but increasingly things like charging and cleaning and all sorts of other services that a car requires.”

While parking apps have been around for a while, Ziglar said the biggest inefficiency in the marketplace centered around the inconsistencies between them. Individuals could be using a service in Minneapolis, but when they travel to Los Angeles, they are forced to use other services. The goal of ParkMobile is to eliminate that disconnect.

“Think of it like a Chase credit card versus a Bank of America Visa credit card,” Ziglar said. “They all work in all the same places, right? It’s just the brand that’s on it.” 

Ziglar stated that while ParkMobile is regarded as an app for parking, its services reach far beyond that of parking; including services like spot reservation, route optimization as well as car services.

So what’s the future of the industry and what innovations are on the horizon? Ziglar says a big one will be the elimination of the parking meter entirely. 

“Parking meters will probably over time go away altogether,” Ziglar said. “We are already seeing them start to decrease in terms of deployment. And the reason is when you think about efficiency they’re very expensive to procure for the city. So big capital expenditure, they’re expensive to install and they’re expensive to maintain.”

As cities look at ways to lower costs, increase liveability and increase flexibility, Ziglar said what began as a convenience issue has quickly evolved into a health and safety issue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re seeing cities start to say, ‘Hey, you can’t use the meter anymore. You have to use a mobile payment because we don’t want you touching the meter and we don’t want our own people touching all these meters to maintain them, to collect cash and coins, et cetera,” Ziglar said. “So what’s interesting is that a consumer convenience is now also becoming a health and safety issue for cities, municipalities, universities, et cetera.” 

In that same vein, ParkMobile ranks third in the navigation field for apps, just behind Google Maps and Waze. Ziglar said because of the navigation aspect, combined with the ParkMobile 360 platform, they are able to work with cities and towns to optimize traffic patterns to see which areas they can divert traffic to.

“Part of what ParkMobile 360 does is it enables our clients to pull up reports and look at graphical renderings of where the highest parking is or where people park the most or the longest and at what hours,” Ziglar said. “So they can actually make changes based upon that information.”

So as cities gravitate more toward mobile parking, what trends might we see in terms of parking and mobility? Among the biggest trends might be consumers moving away from ride-sharing services and shifting more toward personal and rental cars for safety.

“In the old days I almost certainly would have just taken Ubers because it’s easier,” Ziglar said. “Probably now I’ll rent a car. So I think we’re going to see a resurgence of that. I think we are also going to see fewer people commuting at all because everyone is now getting used to how they work from home.”

And while those trends speak to the immediacy of health and safety both for the consumer and the city, other innovations like self-driving cars might not be that far off. And a big reason for their arrival centers around ParkMobile.

“Autonomous vehicles will change everything,” Ziglar said. “So what we really look at is that the ParkMobile network is enabling a driver and ultimately we’re almost the most critical infrastructure for autonomous vehicles because we’re the ones that are enabling them to then transact and operate in the ecosystem itself.”

While we may still be a ways away from self-driving cars, the infrastructure and technology are in place to continue innovating an often forgotten – but necessary – space.

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