The Future of Parking is Technology-Driven
When people are asked about sustainable parking, they would most of the time immediately think of parking lots designed to…Read More
This week, Shuja Uddin, Marketing and PR Coordinator, talked to George Baker, the founder and CEO of ParkHub, and advisor to Parkaze. With ParkHub, Geoge revolutionized the parking industry by providing software and hardware technology to simplify the parking process. George Baker was listed in the Dallas Business Journal 40 under 40 was named NPA’s Innovator of the Year for his groundbreaking work. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
All right, great. I think one of the questions that anybody is going to be asking you is how are you staying focused during COVID-19 and if you have any suggestions, how to remain productive?
Focus during COVID-19 is significant from mental health, wellness, and personal side just as much as it is on the business side. You have to begin thinking differently during this time because there’s no clear understanding of how long the pandemic will continue. It’s certainly caused a lot of people to look inward and reevaluate how to do more with less. You got to get back into the agile methodology that we embraced in the early days of ParkHub and evaluate all opportunities. I’m encouraging my team to forego those processes that we want to put in place. And I often message this, “How can we adapt?”. So we go back to this kind of start-up mentality, where every dollar is valuable. Even if it is out of the scope of our ideal client profile, that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent opportunity for us to exhaust our resources. So I guess to answer your question, how to stay focused is to be constantly iterating and improving by understanding the market using data, interviewing and listening to our customers, and thinking differently.
I read somewhere that, as a kid, you used to pull weeds from Dallas parking lots, is that true? And second what lessons did you learn during those times that you applied when you started ParkHub?
It is absolutely right. I’ll be 40 next week. That was literally over 30 years ago when I was cutting my teeth out in the parking lot sweeping lots, preparing them to be stripped. It was a family business, and, at a young age, I was out there doing that. I had a very strict father that put me out there on the front lines, and I literally had to earn my way up through the operations. It taught me a couple of things. But what that allowed me to do is to understand the pitfalls and the shortfalls from a technology perspective. So rewind again, now this is the late 80s, early 90s that I’m referring to. Over the last five or 10 years, the industry has really seen more improvements than did the entire century before. I grew up in the advent of the Internet and was able to see how technology could provide efficiencies, and you could begin to connect people. I was able to utilize that and apply it to the business processes that I was experiencing, which I thought were painful on my operation side.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the parking industry faces nowadays?
Parking operators are siloed in nature in the way that they manage their business. And they’re very protective of their reporting. There’s not a lot of transparency in the operations. So, the biggest challenge is unlocking the protectiveness of services and allowing for more of an alliance point of view and perspective on “high tides raise all ships”. Particularly now more than ever, this mentality and this kind of mantra that we’re all in this together would certainly also apply to the industry. So, suppose the industry truly wants to thrive and come out on the other end of this. It’s gonna require cooperation from the asset owners to the service management to the hardware and technology that they apply. Then, unlock that because there is no standardization across that. So, really opening up standards and transparency into what’s going on.
I think transparency is such a big issue right now all across the United States with this pandemic going on. What kind of role can the federal and state governments play in resolving a lot of the issues related to parking?
Historically, for getting permits to build a new structure, or getting a CEO, you have these specific requirements, and they go with everything from lighting, outlets, and HVA systems. Still, it also ties into parking ratios to ensure that people can have adequate means for transportation to get into that particular space. As you get into the kind of denser markets, Boston, New York, and San Francisco, the parking requirements don’t make sense because of the mass transit systems and micro-mobility. There are other modalities outside of the vehicle. So the idea of the parking requirements truly needs to be evaluated. But then going back to my other comment on the siloed information sets: you can’t manage what you can’t measure. And if these aren’t public, or datasets, and even if they were public datasets, many of them haven’t even digitally transcribed this, so you really don’t even know. Therefore, you can’t make policy decisions without having data.