Technology is widely touted as holding the keys to unlocking efficiencies and generating extra revenue streams but often this is theoretical, and so when a proof of concept turns into a viable business model, companies that are under pressure to cut costs and increase revenue in a difficult trading environment tend to take notice, says Parket founder and chief technology officer, Joshua Raphael.

Parket is a South African born-and-bred technology platform that connects supply and the ever-increasing but fluid – and often temporary – demand for parking bays. In addition to the extra revenue streams, while smart cities are still largely concepts in South Africa, platforms such as these are going a long way to proving what is possible in terms of efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. Parket is able to achieve this through the use of contactless technology, including license plate recognition technology and QR codes.

Citing City Park – which is the former Christiaan Barnard hospital and one of Parket’s customers whose parking revenue doubled in the past six months, albeit to the backdrop of a rebounding regional economy – Raphael says the app has demonstrated how technology is building a bridge between supply and demand for parking bays, while generating revenue for customers. This is even more important as South Africa, and the world in general, navigates difficult economic conditions in the second half of 2022 and beyond.

“If we look at City Park, as an example, 750 bays are being managed on our system. Of that number, our data analysis showed that up to 100 of those parking bays used to sit vacant all year round.” says Raphael.

He says Parket gives customers a user dashboard to manage and monetize their parking spaces better, and that “to have previously empty bays filled and become an extra revenue stream, is a joy to clients”.

He says that in addition to giving customers the ability to manage their inventory, the consumer facing app can also market the parkade and individual bays available to members of the public who have demand on a specific day or at a specific time.

“Besides us marketing vacant parking bays to the public, our machine learning and analysis capabilities empower landlords to effectively and seamlessly oversell the parking. Let’s say there are hundreds of bays and the parkade is not filled to capacity, we could – for argument’s sake – effectively oversell a hundred of those bays and bring in up to R150 000 a month, every month.”

He says that the platform has resulted in far less maintenance for corporate and retail landlords, and removed all discussions around heavy capital expenditure. “Instead, we are running a platform that reduces capex by a factor of ten, while providing a fully digital, cashless, paperless and contactless interface for users of parking bays. Customers and parkers are now drawn by convenience to the parkade,” he says.

Explaining how Parket works, Raphael explains that it is similar to an online and realtime hotel booking system. “For example, in a multi-floor building the individual parkings would be priced per floor, while the platform itself is able to manage layers of complexity, such as many people booking at the same time from different sources, such as the web and the app, while tenants or landlords designate parking to their own customers.”

He says that an IoT platform, such as a smart parking system, is only worthwhile if it solves real-world problems, which in this case is connecting drivers who need to park their cars, with empty parking bays.

He explains that this efficiency is a big drawcard for tenants in buildings as companies with many employees don’t necessarily need one parking per employee every day, as they may well work on rotation. Our software facilitates communication between the parking bays and the people who need them, so that they can check for space and book ahead of time or as they approach the parkade. This, says Raphael, saves fuel and time on the part of the end user, and ensures a well-managed, cost-optimised parkade.

Parket has placed user centricity front and center, meaning that if a tenant business has a once-off visitor, the QR access code can be sent via text or instant messaging for ease of access without the need to download the app. “This is important, because the whole idea of IoT and the move toward smart cities is to reduce friction and time, not increase the burden on users,” explains Raphael.

Everything that happens on the platform is traceable and landlords can reconcile at their own convenience. Beyond this, by viewing their dashboards with the ability to further mine different metrics, landlords or tenants can get a birds’ eye view of the parkade, while also the ability to pick up trends in demand and decline in an easy, data driven manner.

In addition to this, Raphael says: “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 tickets,” he says.

“Our users are really enjoying the license plate recognition technology and how effectively it works. It reflects the type of efficiency and sustainability that fully smart cities will soon enable across the world.. Our successful use cases, including City Park, have proven to us that we’re ready to scale to bring this kind of efficient parking bay management to more landlords, hotels, retail shopping centers and consumers in South Africa,” he says.