We have been in India for about six years now. There has been a big change in the mall owners’ approach to parking. Today they place importance to the fact that parking has to be intelligent. Making parking smart is really a necessity today. The number of cars is increasing at a very rapid pace and the car parks are getting bigger. Managing the cars in car parks, especially the bigger ones, is really a big challenge, if it is done entirely manually by attendants. If a large car park is even about 70-80% full, finding vacant, hidden parking spaces in them is really difficult. The number of people needed to man a 3000 space car park is quite large. This is where advanced car parking technology such as parking guidance comes into play; some of these systems have just been introduced in India. Parking guidance systems can assist drivers find empty parking spaces and also locate their parked cars in large parking lots which they are unable to locate on their own. Parking guidance can also help find cars to be located in a big parking lot. All these technologies will be implemented in the near future. The market has grown tremendously during the last five years. Today customers such as mall owners are willing to move from manual and older systems to invest in technology and parking systems which are on par with international standards, especially in situations where they see that they will get a significant return on their investment over a period of time.
Secondly, there are also security threats to which car parks are vulnerable, especially the hotels and malls which are soft targets. Cars just drive inside the car parks after taking a ticket and there is usually a security guard who checks all the vehicles with a mirror. But this is not a very reliable method. Today there is indeed a more reliable method to scan potential threats in cars. This technology scans the underside of vehicles and connects this scan with the captured number plate of the vehicle. This is then tagged with the ticket that the car was issued when it entered the car park. This can be then again cross verified whether the same ticket and the same car is exiting out, so this can stop thefts within car parks.
The time before all of this starts, the time when all of us are on the drawing board, designing the shopping centre, that is when we really need to see how we are designing the car parks, what are the entry and exit points going to be like, where our traffic signals are and how the customer is going to drive in to the property. We built a Shopping Centre in Delhi with a multi-level car park. That has helped us tremendously because we ensure that the customer is going up till whatever floor is required – second or third floor, which is always a challenge for any shopping center – to take the customer from the ground floor to the levels above. During this design phase, Secure Parking helped us quite a bit, in fact the plans were run through them and they helped us on the ingress – egress, how the cars will enter in the property and how they will go out, how many lanes can we have for the entry, how many cash booths do we have when they exit etc. So parking and the traffic movement becomes extremely important at the design stage itself when we are planning the retail. The plan of the retail will really depend a lot on how the parking has been planned; how you have planned the entry and exits into each level. Now with the experience which we have with the multi-level car park, we prefer projects where we can do this model. We were immensely surprised by the kind of revenues parking can generate for us from our malls at Delhi and Dehradun and we take this as a very serious stream of income now.