Liberty Place Garage – ParkAssist System

Imagine you are driving into Center City Philadelphia.  As you pass by the many restaurants, shops, art galleries, parks, office buildings, taverns, and hotels, you begin looking for a place to park.  You’re running a little late for a meeting and need to park quickly.  Driving along 17th Street, you spot the large “PARK” sign that also shows the number of “Spaces Available” in the Liberty Place parking facility.  You’re in luck!  The sign says “151 Spaces Available,” so you pull your car into the garage. 

Heading down the ramp to the entrance gate, you notice the large overhead sign that shows the number of spaces available on each of the four levels in the garage.  P1 shows “FULL,” P2 shows “2,” but P3 shows “43,” so you pull a ticket from the spitter and begin driving straight to the P3 Level.  As you pass through levels P1 and P2 you notice that there are bright overhead LED colored lights in the drive aisle.  It’s easy to spot all of the occupied and reserved spaces because they are denoted by the red LEDs, while the green LEDs show you exactly where the open spaces are.  As you arrive on the P3 Level, you notice the space count signs above you are getting more specific, pointing you into the areas of the garage where parking is currently available.  You pass by the EV Charging spaces (denoted by the purple color) and a few Handicap spaces (denoted by the blue color) and follow the arrow on the sign pointing to the rear of P3 because it shows 14 spaces are available and you can see the green lights above the spaces.

Now you have parked your car in record time, hopped onto the elevator, left the building, and made it to your meeting in the nick of time.  After the meeting, you return to the parking garage, but you can’t remember where you parked your car!  That’s when you spot the large touch screen kiosk located in the Liberty Place Shops elevator lobby. 

The display shows “Find Your Car” at the top and provides a search box for you to type in your license plate number.  You don’t know your complete plate number, but you’re pretty sure it begins with “PH” so you type that in and press “Search.”  Within seconds, photos of vehicles in the garage with those characters in the plates are displayed on screen.  You see your car in the list and touch the photo.  Seconds later a map of the P3 Level of the garage is displayed, and a large icon of a car blinks above the space where your car is parked!  You notice that this “Find Your Car” application is also available for iPhone and iPad so you grab the app from the Apple App Store on your iPhone so you’ll have it at the ready the next time you park in this high-tech garage.
You return to your vehicle and realize that you can’t find your parking ticket anywhere.  Great!  Now you’ll have to pay the daily max rate even though you’ve only been parked for 70 minutes.  You drive to the management office near the exit lanes and speak with the manager about your predicament.  He tells you not to worry; he can use this system to see when you parked and when your vehicle left the spot.  Using this information he can charge you the appropriate parking rate.  This is amazing, you think.

How does this parking system manage to pull all of these great features into one place?

Allow us to introduce you to the Liberty Place parking garage, a 750-space below-grade facility serving two office towers, a shopping mall, and a four-star hotel.  Parkway was looking for a way to boost value for all parkers in the garage, including monthly parkers, office workers, shoppers, and hotel guests.  The ParkAssist way-finding system exceeded our expectations by offering many features beyond basic parking guidance.  The innovative “Find Your Car” touch-screen kiosk allows customers to locate their vehicles by simply typing part of their license plate number into the search field to generate a map of the garage, which shows them exactly where their vehicle is located.  “Find Your Car” is also available as an Apple App Store app, so customers with iPhones and iPads can find their vehicles without having to stop at the kiosk.

Utilizing ParkAssist’s M3 Camera Sensors, the system is able to harness the power of 5.1 megapixel CMOS cameras and computer vision algorithms to detect vehicles parked in the spaces.  One sensor mounted overhead in the parking drive aisle on ParkAssist’s custom channel can monitor up to four parking spaces simultaneously.  Through the use of optical character recognition (OCR), the cameras also read the license plates of every parked vehicle, which allows the “Find Your Car” application to populate a database of plate and space numbers.  Fully programmable LED indicators allow for hundreds of custom colors for the sensor lights.  All components are fully networked and communicate with the home server using standard protocols such as TCP/IP and CAT-5 cabling.

Information display signs are installed at key locations (referred to as “decision points”) around the facility, beginning with the external “Spaces Available” signs on the Parkway-branded “PARK” signs on 16th Street and 17th Street.  Even before entering the garage, drivers can see how many spaces are available.  While driving down the entrance ramps customers are greeted with large overhead space count signs that show the number of available spaces on each of the four garage levels.  If levels P1 and P2 are listed as FULL, customers will know to simply head straight to the P3 level for a parking space, saving them time and reducing emissions.

Throughout the garage directional count signs with bright LED lights, capable of displaying letters, numbers, and graphics, are installed at critical decision points to guide customers quickly to the areas with parking available.  All signs are managed by the head-end server, which offers central control of data display and brightness.  Since all information is synchronized with ParkAssist’s cloud-based servers, the system can also be managed remotely (off-site) from any Internet-connected device with a web browser.

A true “way-finding” system, ParkAssist will not only guide customers to available parking spaces, but it will also guide customers back to their vehicles through the use of the “Find Your Car” kiosk and mobile application.  Spending less time walking the garage or riding elevators looking for their vehicles could help customers pay less for parking by reducing their parking time.

Beyond the benefits of the system to the customer, Parkway is also able to take advantage of the comprehensive web reporting system, which ParkAssist calls “PASE.”  Complete parking pattern analysis of occupancy, dwell times, and turnover can be viewed using the custom chart builder, and all reports can be exported to other applications in various formats, such as CSV and PDF.  Live and historic maps of driver behavior (based on license plate) can also be seen with the click of the mouse.  Lost your ticket?  Not a problem!  By entering the vehicle license plate into the system, PASE can report the duration of time that the vehicle was parked. 

Parkway management can then use this information to create a new entry ticket for the customer, allowing them to pay for their true parking stay rather than a default “daily max” charge.  The reports are also available from anywhere since they are hosted in the cloud on ParkAssist’s servers, which means that an off-site manager can help on-site staff in the event of a problem. Each level of the garage hosts a floor cabinet which houses a central network switch and uninterruptable power supply (UPS).  All camera sensors and informational signs are connected via CAT-5 cable and are identifiable on the network by their unique Media Access Control (MAC) address, which allows them to be individually managed by the head end server.  The project went through a substantial planning phase before entering into the design and implementation phases in the fall of 2012.  Within weeks after installation began the system was live by January 2013, and Parkway’s on-site management team received positive feedback from customers as they parked their vehicles.  Vehicle detection accuracy is at or above 99% after a few months of optimization.