Everyone knows the pain of reaching office 30 minutes early to find a parking space for your vehicle, only to find the parking lot full. By the time you eventually find a place and get into the office precious time is wasted.
Car parking is a major challenge in urban cities because of the exponential growth in the number of vehicles on the road and lack of adequate parking facilities in urban centers and office campuses. According to industry data, approximately 30 percent of traffic congestion in India occurs due to vehicle drivers struggling to find parking space.
Searching for a parking in the office campus was a frustrating daily activity for the employees of IT consulting and product engineering company, KPIT Technologies. To alleviate this problem, the company set up focused teams from its business IT and engineering domains, and developed a mobile application platform, known as Smart Commute Application or Smart Parking System, for its employees.
Smart parking system is the most innovative step the company has taken towards a congestion free parking process. It uses image recognition technology and real-time data collection to provide employees updated information about parking situation in advance.
So when employees of Pune based KPIT Technologies drive to work, the company’s smart parking system gives them information about current parking situation in the company campus and also assigns them a parking spot near to their work building, without any human intervention.
Chief Information Officer of KPIT, Mandar Marulkar explained that the motive behind this initiative was to create experiences and not just provide services. He said that the intention behind smart parking system was to give a real time visibility of parking situation in the company, encourage employees to do more carpooling and provide them information about all other public transport options available.
“We realized that we have more number of employees and less number of parking slots, and that is the reason our employees take a lot of time to reach their workplace. Also, there is difficulty in parking on the sides of the public roads of Hinjewadi, near our organization. So if somebody comes in a little late to work, he will have difficulty in finding a parking space in the campus or in the nearby areas. So we wanted to provide real time visibility before the employee starts approaching the office,” explained Marulkar.
Explaining the whole process he said, “As an employee’s vehicle enters our campus, the cameras placed at the entrance capture the vehicle number with the help of automatic number plate recognition technology. It applies optical character recognition (OCR) i.e to convert the image of the number plate to a machine encoded text for recognizing it—and connects with the database to know whether it is a trusted vehicle or not. Once that process is done, an available parking spot is flashed on the display at the entrance and also on their mobile app.”
That’s not it. The Smart Parking System or the Commute Application even wishes employees if it happens to be their birthday or work anniversary. “To create each day an experience for our employees we have added another layer in the application software of greeting them with personalized messages. Also, when they leave for home after work, an update flashes on their phones about the time it will take them to get there, based on traffic data from Google Maps,” said Marulkar.
KPIT has used its core area of expertise—technology—to improve employee experience in its campus. “This whole integration of smart commute application has been from the backend and is developed around the pivotal cloud foundry digital platform,” said Marulkar, “Cloud foundry is an open source platform . On top of that, we have built a lot of connectors around it to customize and improve the application for our employees.”
KPIT is gung ho with this project. This application is a part of the company’s larger initiative, known as Smart Enterprise. According to Marulkar, Smart Enterprise has many pillars, and one of the pillars is Smart Campus. As a part of the Smart Campus initiative the company has automated all the possible aspects of its campus—cafeteria services, guest management, incident reporting and parking management among others.
To mention a few benefits, Marulkar said that apart from updating employees with the current parking situation, the system also helps in avoiding the needless circling of office building blocks to search a parking spot, and thereby reducing the car emissions. Vehicle ingress and egress have also been made more convenient with the implementation of hassle free parking system.
The company also availed benefits such as extending the life of existing infrastructure, increasing revenue, improving accessibility, better utilization of assets, reducing congestion and improving safety. “It basically simplifies and eases the pain of people while they reach office, which in turn improves employees’ satisfaction. It also makes every interaction memorable for our employees,” concluded Marulkar.