April 10, 2012 | Written by: Andrew MacIsaac
Gerry Mooney, General Manager of IBM Smarter Cities has an article in the Washington DC, Examiner which talks about how the recent economic downturn has led to situation where many cities are facing critical budget shortfalls, that are leaving many infrastructure projects in limbo. The result is that many who live in cities or commute to cities are seeing much needed services like transportation becoming more expensive and/or cut. In Boston, the MBTA (the nations’ oldest subway system) is raising fares and cutting service including eliminating routes on weekends. When services like transportation should be expanding and making our lives easier, budget realities are forcing a regression in the level of services that cities can provide. As a result for many commuters and residents the quality of life in cities is actually declining.
As Gerry’s article points out however there are some things that cities can do to help reverse this trend of declining service levels. In the area of parking IBM together with partners like Streetline and Citigroup are helping cities better manage their parking resources and more importantly providing much needed information to commuters on where available parking is located. Being able to find available parking reduces a major pain point that respondents in IBM’s 2011 Parking Survey highlighted. It is estimated that one-third of traffic in cities is caused by people driving around in pursuit of a parking spot. According to the survey, drivers spent an average of 20 minutes looking for a desirable place to park their cars. The same survey found that 6 out of 10 drivers had, at some point, abandoned their searches for a parking space altogether.
By better managing their parking infrastructure cities can improve the experience of commuters, and residents and can optimize revenue generation by better managing supply. The benefits of smarter parking do not stop there however as reducing the frustration level from parking hassles can have the benefit of encouraging more people to live, work, shop, eat or experience other attractions in downtown areas generating more revenue for business owners and more tax income for our cities.
Fixing parking won’t solve all the economic woes faced by our cities but it is a start