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Intelligent lighting for smarter parking operations

What if your exterior lighting could serve as a platform for an IoT network that drives benefits beyond just energy savings? Lighting is fundamentally important for the successful operation of parking infrastructure such as lots, decks and garages. From operational and efficiency improvements to better service and safety for customers, parking areas are an ideal place to implement intelligent LED lighting for a smarter approach to parking management. Properly done, intelligent lighting can create a safe, efficient and stress-free experience for facility customers.

Setting the foundation for an intelligent lighting strategy

Parking operators have numerous priorities and requirements to juggle at any given time. Lighting may not be at the top of that list. However, the lighting system is a physical asset that can provide the foundation for a smarter parking area.

The first step in an intelligent lighting strategy is to transition from traditional lighting to LED. Compared to traditional lighting, LED requires less maintenance, doesn’t contain toxic chemicals, like mercury, and provides better light distribution. It can also improve night sky protection by illuminating only where light is needed. Lighting is customarily a large energy consumer, and upgrades are often the result of an increased focus on sustainability and cost reductions. Typically, that means swapping out outdated, high-intensity discharge lights with LEDs which can deliver 50% or more in energy savings.

The improved visual acuity offered by LED lighting can help parking operators boost safety and security efforts. The image and reputation of a business or public space is negatively impacted when it feels dark and dangerous, or enhanced when it’s sufficiently illuminated to provide a general feeling of safety. With excellent visual acuity, existing security camera systems provide clearer images than lighting via traditional means. From deterring crime to reducing traffic and pedestrian accidents, well-lit parking areas make sense.

With an LED foundation in place, the next step is to connect those LED lights on a unified network that allows for benefits that extend far beyond energy savings alone.

Intelligent lighting for smarter parking operations

Publicly or privately owned and operated parking areas are an ideal place to implement intelligent LED lighting that connects multiple systems on a unified platform with sensors and applications that enable a smarter and more sustainable approach to parking management. This strategic approach supports lighting and non-lighting benefits that for example, may:

  • Increase revenue for parking operations by:
    • Filling empty spaces more rapidly;
    • Assigning a unique value or hour to spaces based upon location;
    • Deploying digital signage for advertising revenue; or
    • Optimizing traffic flow and directing cars to the nearest available space.
  • Improve the parking experience for customers by:
    • Utilizing phone apps for space reservations, prepayment and wayfinding within the structure;
    • Displaying PSAs on digital signage; or
    • Enhancing safety and security due to well-designed lighting that minimizes glare and shadows.
  • Reduce operational and maintenance costs in addition to the energy savings delivered by LED lighting alone. These include:
    • An intelligent lighting system communicates alerts about where fixtures issues are occurring. This streamlines the maintenance process to ensure operational continuity and eliminates unnecessary inspections.
    • An intelligent lighting system can control light in underused areas to drive additional energy savings and extend the useful life of the fixtures.

Lighting as a service

To make connected upgrades a reality, lighting as a service (LaaS) can help parking lot operators fund the project by opting for a subscription structure, with a monthly payment toward lighting upgrades. A lighting provider installs the lighting system and with the money saved on lower energy bills over time, the parking lot operator makes a monthly payment toward the cost of the upgrade. Choosing to pursue an installation through LaaS helps solve the problem of getting stuck with yesterday’s technology, as many options include pricing that ensures the latest innovations as part of the monthly fee. With lighting as a service, fixing outages and complying with state and local codes become the responsibility of the lighting provider, which frees up the parking operator to focus on other priorities.

We have only scratched the surface when it comes to the technologies that are available today or soon will be that can provide owner and customer benefits in parking facilities. In order to achieve outcomes that deliver what you need today and provide the foundation for future additions, be sure to start with an intelligent lighting design.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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