The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), which operates eight saltwater beaches and associated parking facilities, has once again partnered with LAZ Parking to modernize, digitize, and streamline parking for more than one million annual beachgoers this year. Rhode Island has implemented a customized technology platform built upon LAZ’s e-commerce, business intelligence, and customer care solutions.
The technology allows residents and out-of-state visitors to purchase season parking passes and daily flex passes at https://beachparkingri.com
. With a Daily Flex Pass, beachgoers are automatically charged the daily parking rate when their vehicle enters one of the state beach parking lots. The flex parking pass is a great option if a beachgoer is unsure how many times they may visit the beach but would like the opportunity to use the express lanes.
Both passes use state-of-the art license plate recognition technology for validation and allow passholders to access express lanes for faster entry. The technology was in limited use in 2020 before being suspended due to travel restrictions and capacity limits associated with COVID-19.
Improvements include allowing customers to buy both day and season online passes in advance, express lanes using license plate recognition technology for prepaid customers at some locations, capability to provide real-time parking lot capacity data that DEM can use to communicate alerts when lots are at or near capacity, and capability to capture visitation and revenue numbers in real time to ensure that the right fees are being charged and collected for every transaction. Initial data showed that purchasing a season or flex pass online and using an express lane significantly reduced the time to park.
“In the summertime, DEM is in the business of providing safe and convenient access to the best beaches anywhere to hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders and out-of-state visitors,” said DEM Acting Director Terrence Gray. “LAZ Parking’s customized and customer-friendly technology speeds up the parking process and allows visitors to find their spot in the sand more quickly. Access to outdoor recreation venues where families and friends can relax and share special times is central to DEM’s mission. LAZ Parking is our partner in fulfilling this promise.”
To help reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths, DEM encourages Rhode Islanders to buy season and daily flex parking passes online or in advance. Anyone who buys a season parking pass or a daily flex parking pass online or before heading to the beach may use the express lanes for quick beach entry. Purchasing season or daily flex parking passes online also helps DEM keep express lanes open, as there have been past instances when the express lanes could not be used because too many people were paying for parking at the entry gates rather using pre-paid parking passes.
“Per-vehicle transaction times at beach entrance booths for sales of seasonal beach passes previously took up to three minutes a car,” Gray said. “If you multiply that by the thousands of cars we welcome on busy summer weekends, the time really adds up and means worse traffic backups and delays for everyone. This technology will be even more critical in 2021, as the state expects record crowds this year.”
LAZ Parking manages more than one million parking spaces across the U.S. and is an industry leader in the development and implementation of technology, data analytics, and real-time monitoring tools that make parking faster, safer, easier, and more efficient.
DEM first contracted with LAZ Parking in early 2020, after a competitive bidding process, to operate and modernize parking at state beaches. DEM's selection of LAZ Parking is in keeping with the State's Parks Initiative, now in its third year, of celebrating the state park system by investing in it. Rhode Island's natural and public assets – including eight saltwater beaches, 25 parks and nature preserves, 8,200 acres of parkland, 1,000 campsites, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, and 200 fishing spots – are magnets, attracting more than 9 million Rhode Islanders and tourists a year. They're also an engine that adds an estimated $315 million to the economy, generating nearly $40 million in state and local taxes and supporting nearly 4,000 jobs a year. Predictive Analytics Makes Parking Smarter & Safer
In addition to the digital payment solutions
provided by the LAZ technology (i.e., online passes, credit card payment onsite), the LAZ Business Intelligence solution
allows DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation to collect, organize, and analyze data to improve the parking process.
This technology was critical in 2020 during the pandemic because of frequent changes to capacity limits, new federal and state regulations, and heightened safety concerns by consumers. With the new technology stack in place, DEM could easily provide accurate data to demonstrate compliance with all COVID restrictions and guidelines.
Dynamic data visualization eliminates guesswork by integrating multiple data sets (e.g., real-time lot capacity, historical parking data, current weather, seasonality, tide charts, etc.) to predict and manage potential over-crowding. This information can be used to increase/decrease the number of spots that are available, communicate alerts when lots are at or near capacity, and manage staffing decisions.
"The Rhode Island team is a great partner for us because we are both always looking to take our data analysis to the next step,” said Patrick Ryan, Vice President, Innovation
, LAZ Parking. “Our proprietary forecasting and predictive analytics tools allow us to make sound business decisions based on hard data and the LAZ team’s decades of operating experience and expertise.”
LAZ Parking is one of the largest parking companies in the world. The company is an industry leader in client-facing technologies that are reinventing the parking industry. In addition to access, e-commerce, and business intelligence, LAZ is a pioneer in the areas of touchless parking, text-to-park, cellular payments, and tools for the connected car.
“LAZ has worked closely with DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation and been a great partner in enhancing services to benefit our customers,” said DEM’s Gray. “They work fast, their technology is scalable, and as they showed during the pandemic, they are focused on our needs and willing to work with us during a changing environment.”
LAZ is also a developing player in the "proximity on-demand" services
sector. LAZ is developing a proprietary platform of adjacent products and services that allows parking lot owners and landlords to enhance customer loyalty and unlock new revenue streams by delivering high-value, real-time services to customers. Examples of these services include electric vehicle charging stations, kitchen pods, urban farming, micro warehouses, and same-day delivery.