As South Africa and the world comes to terms with hybrid working replacing the old model of full time office-based employees, the knock-on effects have forced landlords and property investment companies to reimagine the efficient use of commercial real estate, not least the expensive and administration-intensive management of parking bays.
South African born-and-bred technology platform Parket builds a seamless bridge between supply and the ever-increasing but fluid – and often temporary – demand for parking bays.
By now, it is common knowledge that the idea of Uber was born one winter’s night when the founders were stranded at a conference and asked the question: What if you could organise a ride using your mobile phone? Joshua Raphael, founder and chief technology officer of Parket, says: “That’s the power of technology, which ultimately leads to the disruption we have seen sweep across industries. Technology, used to solve a real problem, to connect suppliers with buyers, can fundamentally shift how things are done.”
Raphael says the genesis of the Parket platform occurred one day while watching drivers make their way up and down packed streets, negotiating peak hour traffic and paying exorbitant fees for street-side parking while a stone’s throw away, empty indoor parkades stood unused. “I asked the question: ‘If there is so much demand and supply right next to it, what can we do to bridge this divide and monetise assets for corporates and other organisations so that dormant assets can become a source of profit?”
Parket has successfully built this bridge, offering a product that reduces capital expenditure by a factor of 10x, while providing a fully digital and contactless interface for users of parking bays. Developed and proven in South Africa, Parket is now ready to scale throughout SA and abroad, underpinned by its license plate recognition and user QR code access technology, and smart management software, all housed in a mobile app.
He says parking is currently a labour and paper-intensive exercise, not to mention expensive when considering the cost, security and maintenance of current parking management machines. “There are spreadsheets, paper-based systems and very expensive machines,” he says.
“This platform allows landlords to allocate bays, and tenants to manage many employees with a limited number of parking bays in real time, while enabling seamless visitor access and the ability to pull up reports from a user-friendly dashboard. The added ability to sell vacant bays on a demand-led basis has proven exceptionally popular because of the profit it generates from an otherwise stagnant asset,” says Raphael.
While some systems manage access control and others manage the paperless hourly allocation of parking bays or a marketplace for vacant bays, Parket is the only platform that seamlessly integrates all these functionalities into a single interface, which is easily manageable with the Parket mobile app, all the while being 100% POPI-complaint.
Raphael says that while the biggest drawcard of the platform is no doubt this seamless, realtime management of the full parking ecosystem, the license-plate recognition is the star of the show. “The efficiency of our IoT platform is the wow factor. After entering their number plate details into the app, all skepticism disappears when they pull up to a parkade and the boom immediately opens for them, and this amazes people. “The efficiency is almost magical,” as one customer said.
However, besides the wow factor, the license plate recognition devices and software are important, because most landowners, or their tenants, have countless headaches having to deal with lost access cards, new cars and the sharing of access tags or cards. “Technology allows us to reduce all the friction points and improve the customer experience immensely. The platform is exponentially more efficient. Landlords allocate parking bays, tenants allocate bays from their own allocation and then users manage their own access through inputting their license plate data using the app.”
Parket has placed user centricity front and centre, meaning that if a business has a one-time or infrequent visitor, the QR access code can be sent via text or instant messaging for ease of access without the need to download the app. Again, this is all traceable and landlords can reconcile when convenient.
The world is evolving at a rapid pace, and environmental concerns are driving not only investor decisions but company strategies. Switching to a smart parking management platform reduces the endless coasting and carbon emissions associated with idling vehicles, while also eradicating consumables such as paper. “This is a big concern for a number of corporate entities we engage with – they must find ways to reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs. The fact that we can generate income for businesses at the same time is a compelling proposition.”