Carlos Diana, Quercus: “In the area of technology, we should adapt to the new reality”
An ever-increasing need for parking spaces and a lack of supply make parking management systems one of the fastest-growing needs of a smart city.
It's inevitable that mobility trends will change with the advent of new parking management systems. The advantages of intelligent parking solutions have already been recognized by a number of widely used public places, including parking garages, hotels, airports, hospitals, and shopping malls.
To get a better understanding of the true potential hidden behind this rapidly growing technology, Cybernews reached out to Carlos Diana Garcia, Global Sales and Marketing Director at Quercus Technologies – a company that enhances mobility, security, and revenue for parking facilities worldwide.
Tell us more about your story. What has the journey been like for Quercus Technologies?
Quercus Technologies is an international company that is consolidated in the parking facility business with installations in over 70 airports, 80 shopping malls, hotels, universities, public institutions, hospitals, condominiums, and office buildings around the world.
In the beginning, Quercus focused on providing traffic and parking solutions, although over time the company specialized in and centered solely on the parking sector. Today, the Quercus team is made up of 55 employees and has offices in Europe, the United States, Brazil, France, and Chile, from which it is easier to stay close to our customers and provide more localized service.
Know-how, market experience, and the quality of our products and services are the main assets that position Quercus Technologies as a world leader in license plate recognition, vehicle detection, and parking guidance systems.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What issues do your solutions help solve?
At Quercus, we offer smart parking solutions for any kind of parking facility, maximizing efficiency in management and improving the parking experience for customers and the business operator.
Our comprehensive parking solution covers vital customer needs such as:
- Cutting the time spent looking for available space, and increasing mobility and automation inside a parking facility.
- Improving safety and monitoring capabilities inside the parking garage using camera-based sensors. Preventing any attempted thefts, muggings, vehicle damage, or fraudulent claims.
- Easing congestion in and around the parking facility, relieving users’ stress, and preventing accidents.
- Environmental advantages by reducing backed-up traffic in and outside the parking facility, as well as CO² emissions and fuel consumption.
- Facilitating the establishment of a dynamic pricing system that enables the increase of revenue and return on investment.
- Identifying incidents in parking spaces.
- Providing accurate details and real-time information on parking space occupancy.
- Improving user experience in the parking facility and increasing advantages for owners and operators.
- Helping to locate parked vehicles using a license plate detection system. The information is offered to users through the kiosk.
- Getting quality information on everything that occurs in the parking facility guarantees more efficient evaluation and decision-making.
Do you think parking guidance systems are going to enhance safety? How will they do it?
Camera-based guidance systems not only enhance the user experience, helping them to park faster and locate their vehicles with the “Find Your Car” systems, but they also improve safety and control at the parking facility. This is because our sensors (smart cameras), in addition to reading the vehicle license plate, monitor the vehicle throughout its stay in the parking garage.
The sensors activate the recording feature when they detect the movement of people or vehicles in the parking space where the vehicle is parked. This way, the vehicle’s license plate number is linked to any other event that takes place in its space through our parking management software platform.
For example, if another driver has a collision with a vehicle and leaves the premises without reporting it, our BirdWatch platform will enable us to identify the license plate of the vehicle hit, and the one that hit it. Later, the video of the moment in which the incident took place can be viewed.
The same is true if someone tries to steal the vehicle; the system will record the incident precisely as it happens. What’s more, the integration of the guidance system with the software platform means that all the pictures and videos taken by the sensors are duly compiled in the database. This enables enhanced security and reduces incidents and theft in the parking facility.
How do you think did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?
Due to the situation we’ve been through in recent years, Quercus carefully followed the preventive measures to slow the spread of Covid 19 as much as possible. This includes recommendations about traveling or working remotely. In other words, everything was necessary for raising awareness and ensuring the safety of all employees. Thanks to this, we remained 100% operational and capable of serving our customers with the same efficiency, effectiveness, and closeness.
In the area of technology, we should adapt to the new reality and, to do so, the new needs of parking facilities, so that we can keep providing a comfortable, safe experience for all our users.
There has been a surge in smart parking systems over this period, thanks to their facilitation of contactless parking services. This enables drivers to access and exit the parking area with no concern for tickets or validations at the cashier window. And it has given users much more autonomy and security.
On another note, the component crisis has been another problem we’ve had to cope with. Product and electronic component supply cuts have meant much higher prices of raw materials and significant delays in the shipment of materials by our suppliers and have affected the delivery times of our products to customers.
Despite current market conditions, the sound management and efficiency of our team have meant that even now, deliveries are still reaching our customers. They have given us very positive feedback, which spurs us to keep working hard and continue providing excellent service.
How can parking systems improve mobility and automate parking entrances and exits? How can parking technology cut CO2 emissions?
To know the impact of guidance systems on parking mobility, we have conducted tests A/B to determine the “travel time” (the time a vehicle takes from entering the parking facility until parking in a space). To do this, we set up license plate recognition units at the parking entrances and guidance systems covering all of the parking spaces.
The conclusions of the study were conclusive. When a parking facility has a complete guidance system; that is, an LPR system at the access points and parking systems that indicate space availability, in addition to display panels providing directions to the available parking spaces, travel time is reduced by 30-40%. In the case of special parking spaces (individuals with reduced mobility or electric vehicles), the travel time was cut by over 50%.
This reduction not only improves the user experience. As the vehicle is driven less, fewer CO² emissions are generated inside the parking garage, and less fuel is used. This means you don’t have to make heavy investments in ventilation and, therefore, achieve an overall cost reduction.
Where can we expect to see cameras and detection technology being used more widely in the near future?
On the whole, detection systems are becoming more widely used. In the end, they will form part of an ecosystem in which we provide significant data to improve decision-making.
For example, in the not-too-distant future, cars will be autonomous. They will communicate with platforms that will decide in real-time on the most efficient route, taking different criteria selected by the driver into account: closeness to destination, best price/hour ratio, availability of a monitoring system, etc. Our guidance technology, which will be installed in the parking facility, will use an application to communicate with these platforms and help vehicles make the most competent decisions.
On another note, it must be remembered that these completely computer-governed autonomous vehicles will be vulnerable to cyberattack. This can have devastating consequences, and the safety of the driver can be compromised. That is why our R&D Department is very aware of security in product development, as it is one of the points that our customers’ IT departments evaluate.
What other aspects of our daily lives do you hope to see improved by innovations in technology?
My belief is that the next innovations in smart parking are going to be all of those platforms that help the driver find a parking space faster, and facilitate the driving experience.
In the future, smart cities, smart parking facilities, IoT platforms, and vehicles will all be interconnected. That way, they will have access to the information on these platforms in real-time. The vehicles will generate a network among themselves in which it will be possible to see what is occurring and what will occur during the trip.
These platforms will have real information on all parking spaces, in parking garages as well as off-street spaces, and will direct users to the free parking space closest to their destination, even considering the price of the parking space, since all the information will be available on the platforms.
With these technological developments, drivers can relax during their trips, since looking for an empty parking space will no longer be a problem.
Why should a smart parking system be implemented?
A smart parking system provides benefits to parking facility users and operators alike. From the user's standpoint, their experience is clearly improved in many ways. I’ll explain it with a simple example. Who hasn’t driven to the airport, and, on returning from their trip, forgotten where they parked their car? The consequence is walking around and around, looking for it, and swearing it’s the last time you’ll go to that parking facility. With “Find Your Car” technology, that will no longer happen.
Our system, based on an app, or the parking payment terminal, will indicate the exact location of your vehicle. What’s more, customers will feel safer in a parking garage with smart technology, as they will know that their parking space is being monitored throughout their entire stay. Not only that but driver stress will be relieved, as the system will help them find a space much quicker. This means fewer CO² emissions, as the vehicle will be driven less.
There are great benefits for facility operators, too. The main one, in my view, is big data. Smart parking systems generate a great deal of data that will facilitate the creation of predictive models on driver behavior and space occupancy that will aid in decision-making, for example by generating dynamic pricing according to the parking facility's occupation level. This way, operators will be able to reach higher levels of revenue. And through our application, our smart parking system can be integrated with other platforms for the operator to have a more comprehensive view of their business.
What does the future hold for Quercus Technologies?
Quercus is an innovative company, with nearly 40% of its staff belonging to the R&D Department. We draw up a 5-year road map, by which we attempt to anticipate our customers’ needs. Both in design and execution, we try to keep our products versatile, safe, and eco-friendly.
On another note, it’s never easy to predict the future, especially with everything that’s been happening in recent years. What we do know is that we’ll continue to be a company of reference in the parking industry, developing state-of-the-art products that make our customers’ lives easier.
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