>99% Accuracy in a Camera-based Parking Guidance System? That’s right.

Nathan MaustParking Guidance

In 2019, NextGen Parking was hired by Children’s Health in Dallas to help transform the parking experience for their patients, visitors, and employees. With parking occupancy regularly surpassing 90%, the first priority was to simplify the process of finding the few available spaces on campus. The needle-in-the-haystack, if you will, in their 3 garages with a combined 3,314 spaces. Additionally, Children’s was facing a challenge shared by most large healthcare campuses: ensuring that employees do not park in spaces which are set aside for patients & visitors. But, as a great man once said, “we’ll get to that later.”

It is a well-known fact that a properly installed ultrasonic parking guidance system, such as the Carpark III system from Carlo Gavazzi, will easily achieve accuracy in excess of 99% while providing the signature “red and green lights” that parkers commonly see in airports, mixed-used developments, & other parking facilities. But, basic parking space availability and integration with other building management systems (such as ventilation and lighting controls) are where the functionality ends.

Single-space ultrasonic sensor vs. a 4-space multi-function camera sensor

Camera-based systems, such as the Spot Control system from Quercus on the other hand, provide seemingly endless features and benefits including: 1) License plate information of all parked cars; 2) Video recordings of all movements around each vehicle; 3) Find my Car features; and many more. But, in spite of all their features, net accuracy (accuracy % minus exceptions) has typically lived in the 95% range meaning a 1,000 space garage would have 50 incorrect spaces. That results in a rather frustrating customer experience. Ask any parking consultant you trust, & they will confirm this to be the case, particularly the system manufactured by a rather litigious company who likes to brag about their patent (which includes video transmission to review stations where errors are manually corrected).

Video Surveillance & License Plate Capture of every space

To be transparent, when NextGen installed the first garage at Children’s, the Spot Control system initially functioned at a net accuracy of 95% to 97%. Then, THE GAME CHANGED! Due to tireless efforts of NextGen’s Support Department and collaboration with Quercus, a new algorithm was released in late 2019 which improved the accuracy to an unheard of 99.7% and has been operating at well over 99% accuracy ever since.

Section of Level 1 of the Hospital Garage at 100% accuracy

I’m not going to share the “secret sauce” behind this fix, but needless to say, it is a failsafe manner of using multiple data points, conditions, & AI to detect with near-perfect accuracy the condition of each space. The few exceptions to accuracy we have seen involve primarily the Quercus SmartLPR-driven level count system for the roof of each garage, but due to strategically-placed delineation, those counts are nearly perfect as well. On top of that, if you’ve visited a garage with a competing camera-based guidance system installed, you may have noticed that other systems take anywhere from 45-90 seconds to change from occupied (red) to available (green) and vice-versa. The Spot Control sensors typically change status less than 20 seconds after a space’s condition has changed. In a busy garage, that is the difference between a parker driving past a space that was just vacated (because they don’t see it as available until they drive by it) and knowing it is available on their approach so they can pull into the available space.

Ok. Now back to what I said we would get to later: the issue of employees parking in spaces designated for patients & visitors. Without droning on too much regarding the cause of the issue, needless to say, this is an area where Quercus’ DNA in LPR really shines. If an employee (identified by their registered license plate) parks in a parking zone or space designated as being for patients or visitors, an alert will be triggered to allow Parking Services to perform enforcement activities AUTOMATICALLY without having to drive an enforcement vehicle around all of their parking facilities looking for violations.

A view of the Birdwatch software interface where violation alerts appear

As mentioned in a recent LinkedIn post, once the finishing touches are put on the guidance system at this site, NextGen will begin the implementation of a DESIGNA Connect Series Parking Access & Revenue Control System (PARCS) that is going to take their customer experience into a different stratosphere. I will share more information about the advanced functionalities being implemented there in the near future, but here is a taste of the aesthetics coming soon to their campus. This…is gonna be good!

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DESIGNA’s Connect Series Lane & Payment Equipment with HD displays & custom colors