Big Data and the Bigger Picture


Big Data is big business in the current climate, with organisations of all types and sizes looking to leverage any and all opportunities to thrive within an ever-changing environment. Never has the need to ‘pivot’ towards testing newer and additional revenue streams been so important.

And where do we suggest that many of those businesses choose to start?

Right outside in the car park.

Though we could talk all day about the ways in which effective car park management can generate revenue for your business, working with a trusted parking partner can enhance other aspects of your operations too, which, in turn, will also leverage opportunities to support growth despite an uncertain economy.

When organisations sign up to the use of ANPR on their parking sites, the ‘Big Four’ (variation, volume, velocity and veracity) aspects of big data (and the reports that can be produced from it) become a serious driver to enable organisations big and small to highlight previously unseen opportunities and mitigate economic/competitor threats on their business. Though we talked about the different families of data in our last blog, A place for Big Data in Parking, at ParkingEye, we’re always keen to show how things can work in practice when you take that big data and use it to inform your big picture long-term car parking strategy.

If you have a car park that welcomes your staff, service users and visitors, then you have value on your site. Data value. Here’s an overview as to how some sectors have utilised this big data to make big changes.


Parkingeye’s big data in action… Retail


When one of our retail clients became concerned that a competitor had opened up a site within easy driving distance of their own outlet, we got our eyes on the reports generated by

their ANPR systems to see if we could work with our client to respond to any weaknesses and play to any strengths.

Whilst it was encouraging to see that the number of visitors onsite had actually increased since the opening of the competing store, the data was actually able to provide further insight into this to explain the trend. After all, effective car park management goes much further than just looking for the peaks and troughs, to a position where causation can be suggested. In this example, whilst visits were increasing in volume, once data sets were layered over one another, our analysts could see visits were significantly reducing in duration. This insight inferred that a proportion of motorists were visiting site but only staying for short periods (maybe petrol, essentials or grabbing lunch), then leaving to do their ‘big shop’ at another time or even with a competitor.

Having access to data of this size, scope and scale allowed our client to work with our advisors on incentives and technology to encourage these ‘short-stayers’ to stay on site using discounts and promotions that would boost incremental revenues and improve brand loyalty.

More generally speaking, retail clients will often make use of their big data analysis and reporting to alter things like opening times. Such a change to operations can both drive down costs (reducing staffing at quieter periods, etc) and drive up revenue (catering for extra consumer time and spending, for example). Whilst pre-COVID research from the Office for National Statistics shows that more money is still spent in store compared with online, retailers and managing agents cannot escape the fact that ‘virtual shopping’ is growing at a much faster yearly rate (15%) and certainly driven up further during periods of lockdown. This places increased pressure on ‘bricks and mortar’ retail sites to compete. Therefore, anything that can be done – particularly in the case of managed estates – to enhance the customer experience and provide a safer environment for shoppers is going to be key to ensuring we take the fall out of footfall.

Of course, this is just one example as to how big data and reporting can help one sector. Can other industries be just as positively affected?


Parkingeye’s big data in action… Education


One of our clients is a large university sitting just outside of a busy and popular city centre. Close analysis of the big data generated by the reports from the client’s ANPR systems were

able to drive improvements that would not only tackle parking abuse on-site, but also boost revenue for the university and improve the student experience to boot.

In terms of revenue generation, the client was able to spot that the spaces on their site were still being used long after traditional university hours had finished. This was down to the fact that people were taking advantage of the free (in all senses) parking spaces as they visited the nearby eateries and entertainment venues that sat conveniently in this particularly trendy area of the city centre outskirts.

The client implemented a paid parking strategy on certain sites within their estate to generate revenue from pre-bookings – and deter antisocial behaviour due to the car park being so freely accessible during unsociable hours.

This also had a knock-on effect of strengthening the university’s links with local businesses, where some restaurants would, for example, run ‘money back’ offers for those parking at the university site and then choosing to dine with them afterwards.

When it came to the university’s priority, however – improving the student experience – the same collection of data was also analysed to make significant improvements. For example, the client was able to see that there were certain times of the day when parking was as much as 25% over capacity – forcing cars to circle on site in the hope of a space becoming available. With this frequently looking unlikely from the ratio of cars to spaces, it became clear that the university wasn’t able to cater for demand, which was creating stress for students and staff alike as they made the mad dash across campus for the start of class.

By unlocking this insight, the client was able to review their timetable(s) and adjust some schedules to ease the pressure across the day, ensuring that spaces more easily available and accessible to everyone when they needed it. This indirectly had a positive effect on student safety, as well, given the fact that fewer students had the need to find parking spaces further away from the campus/off site.



And speaking of safety…


Whilst businesses are keen to make great use of the big data available to them in terms of revenue generation and hopefully business growth as we continue to navigate our way through these unprecedented times, we turn our focus to COVID-19.

Social distancing and contactless – 2 words which we all now use on a daily basis. Businesses need to think practically about how they can leverage big data to help make big changes to everyday operations and long-term strategy. The big data we can process from effective car parking management can highlight such trends as when sites are becoming close to full capacity, and therefore highlight the need for compliance within aspects such as social distancing. The rising use and demand for touchless technologies and virtual payment solutions is also key to observe in parking data, so that businesses can ensure that they are compliant with COVID secure measures in ways that positively affect the customer experience of those using their sites and ensure everyone is kept safe.


Business as usual?

Don’t assume that lockdown measures have limited the need for parking and effective management of that space – within our own estate, the big data generated from sites clearly shows that motorists are still making use of what they view as free space. This is food for thought when it comes to the generation of much needed revenue from motorists parking on ‘closed’ sites without permission (as with religious buildings), as well as COVID secure experience for visitors who are wanting – and needing – to venture to their sites.

So, it would seem that big data really can be instrumental in shaping the bigger picture to help businesses survive and thrive in these uncertain times, whilst taking the opportunity to embrace technology like ANPR to be COVID secure. Win, win.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please head over to our car park management solutions page for more information, and get in touch with us today!

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