Access Control in Car Parks: What's the Right Tech Mix?

Whether you are a Car Park Operator or a Parking Mobile App, you have to choose the right technology to manage car access at parking gates for the different kind of visitors you get.

This article I wanted to share with the parking community is about selecting the right tech for your operations without being too geeky. :)

“The main function of a parking access control system is simply to identify a customer at entrance and exit to check the arrival and departure time and open the gate to let him in and out at the condition that you can collect the money due for its parking time.”

Let’s sum up briefly the kind of customer flows you’ve got:

  1. The traditional occasional customer (non App user) who just drives by and goes inside your car park because it is convenient for him.
  2. The regular customer who has no membership (you might have failed so far to track him and show him the benefits of becoming a member).
  3. The regular customer with a membership.
  4. The app driver who likes to compare availability, prices and traveling in different cities.

All those customers can access your car parks in different ways which are more or less convenient for them and your team to manage. As a car park operator, what you want is to manage the flow of vehicles quickly and easily while keeping your operational costs down.

Which tech do we have on hand to manage car access control?

Ticketing:

The good old ticket machine system.

Any customer who arrives at gate can take a ticket and then be identified for payment and exit authorization.

Very straightforward but we all know the problems of ticket loss or damage that result in hassles for the driver and the operator. And I’m not even going into the fraud issue here…

Advantages Disadvantages
Customers (drivers)
  • Anybody can go in and out (no need to register)
  • The user experience in his car
  • Ticket damaged / lost/ unreadable
  • Must go to a machine or counter only for payment (QR code excluded here)
Operators
  • Basic solution to have to welcome the traditional or regular customer
  • Custom print for advertising ($)
  • Problems solving with ticket issues
  • Fraud
  • Maintenance & consumable
  • Slow entrance / exit flow

RFID short range:

A plastic card is given in advance to the customers or directly by the machine at the gate. It replaces the ticket by something sturdier, let’s say more eco-friendly since it’s reusable. The RFID chip can contain a variety of data inside.

Note that I’m not going into NFC on mobile phones which is similar to short range RFID. But maybe an engineer at Skidata or Amano would like to give us their input on the ongoing developments with this tech? :)

Advantages Disadvantages
Customers (drivers)
  • Anybody can go in and out (some machines can give you a card at entrance)
  • If you have a membership, then you can enjoy monthly billing and avoid time wasted at the payment machine
  • The user experience in his car
  • Card lost
  • Must go to a machine or counter for payment (if not registered)
Operators
  • Basic solution to welcome the traditional or regular customer with and without membership
  • Problems solving with card lost
  • Slow entrance/exit flow

RFID long range:

Very popular in countries like Singapore, AVI (Automatic Vehicle Identification) uses long range RFID. It is a very convenient option for off street parking beside the toll gates on the highway since it’s hands-free (no need to open the window).

Also you don’t need to pay on site, you charge it in advance. Everybody saves time and hassle.

Advantages Disadvantages
Customers (drivers)
  • The user experience in his car
  • Monthly billing, you avoid time wasted at the payment machine
  • Registered users only equipped with card and reader on board
Operators
  • Fast entrance/exit flow
  • Deployment (logistics) with customers

License Plate Recognition (LPR):

Licence plate recognition is performed by a camera and dedicated software that can recognize most vehicules (around 95%) with a readable plate.

It’s a hands-free solution for any kind of customer (registered or not). It’s the fastest solution for optimum flow at parking gates offering a pay-by-plate method.

Advantages Disadvantages
Customers (drivers)
  • The user experience in his car
  • Pay as you want (machine, counter, mobile or monthly billing)
  • A small % of cars can’t be recognized and access will be refused
Operators
  • Fast entrance/exit flow
  • Security record
  • Must be coupled with another technology to ensure 100% customer access

QR Code:

Very common in Asian countries, the Quick Response (QR) code is becoming more popular than the traditional bar code since it can contain much more information in it.

A registered customer who is given a QR code electronically or physically can present himself at the gate and be identified.

Advantages Disadvantages
Customers (drivers)
  • Always with you (mobile phone). You can take a picture of the physical ticket too
  • Pay as you want (machine, counter, mobile or monthly billing)
  • The user experience in his car
  • Registered users only
Operators
  • Easy and cheap to generate
  • Secure
  • Date records
  • Slow entrance/exit flow
  • Must be coupled with another technology to ensure 100% customer access

Others:

I’m sticking here to the most commonly used technology that are supposed to be hassle-free and serve most of the driver types.

We can however mention the remote controlled access for registered customers.

Note that some companies today are providing a device that converts Bluetooth signals from phones to any radio frequency. That could give new life to this old tech!

You have the electronic lock technology on a keyboard or digital screen as well.

So what’s the right mix to manage car access control?

Well, this depends on the kind of users you have and the experience you want to give them at gates and when paying.

At Silex Lab we supply a turnkey solution for car park operators who want to manage the access of registered users 100% automatically with the best speed flow at gates and payment stage.

L’iPark® access control is based on the mix of License Plate Recognition + QR code technologies.

Our LPR recognizes 97% of the customers who can go in and out without even stopping at gates while the QR code serves as a backup for the 3% of unrecognized plates.

This technology mix has also been selected by the leading car park operator Indigo who is presently giving the best user experience to Indigo App users daily.

“If you would like to try L’iPark® access control solution and increase your customers’ mobile experience and your revenue, contact me. We offer a 100% money back guarantee on our product during 3 months after setup at your car park.”