Design and Construction, Safety

Making the Case for Automated Parking Systems

When people recall their experiences in traditional parking garages, rarely do pleasant images come to mind. Instead, thoughts often center upon dank, dimly lit, multi-story structures with creaky elevators, and repeatedly circling multiple floors for that elusive parking space that usually takes far too long to find.

Today, however, there is a way to eliminate much of this uneasiness through the use of modern technology, though the basic premise of it has been in existence (and has been successfully used) for nearly a half-century. Automated Parking Systems (APS) are gaining popularity for many reasons, including their ability to hold twice as many vehicles as traditional parking garages (allowing more condos or apartments to be built in the same volume), their simple mobile app for vehicle retrieval, and their electric vehicle (EV) charging capabilities.

Here, though, we focus on the safety benefits provided to mixed-use, residential, and commercial properties. Below are some of the ways an APS greatly reduces (or solves entirely) a number of very real issues that exist in traditional parking garages when it comes to customer health and safety. 


Common Parking Garage Problem: The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 7% of all violent crimes happen in parking lots or garages. In addition, statistics show that parking garages are the second-highest location for violent crimes, behind only residences. It’s no wonder people in parking garages are always on high alert! And according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), more than 932,000 cars were stolen in 2021, and parking garages are often a favorite place for carjackers to either steal cars or take some of their contents. While there are many theft deterrents found in today’s automobiles, stolen cars and vandalism still remain a significant problem.

APS Solution: Because Automated Parking Systems use robotic technology to park and retrieve vehicles, a driver never has to set foot inside any unsecured part of a parking structure. The vehicle owner simply gains access to the garage using an automated ID system that activates the structure’s outer doors, and pulls their vehicle into a well-lit transfer area to park. Once clear, the robotic system goes to work, transporting the car to a safe, secure parking space, where the car—and its contents—are completely safe from all forms of vandalism. When the driver is ready to leave, the vehicle is identified and returned to the transfer area forward facing. At this point, the owner simply gets in the car and drives away.

In-Garage Accidents

Common Parking Garage Problem: Due to poor sight lines, confined spaces, and distracted or careless drivers, a full one-fifth of accidents happen in a parking lot or garage. It isn’t just the drivers causing these mishaps; in many instances, pedestrians are equally to blame. Additionally, about 70% of all hit-and-runs occur in parking lots and garages. No matter how careful a driver is, it seems that there are always obstacles around which to navigate—and sometimes, those things are entirely out of anyone’s control.

APS Solution: APS users won’t ever have to worry about irresponsible drivers or distracted pedestrians because the vehicles are parked by the robotic system, and no one is allowed beyond the transfer area so there is no scenario that would allow any of these types of accidents to happen. Here’s a not-so-obvious additional benefit: Because there is no driving around to try to find a parking spot, emissions in an APS are reduced significantly—often by as much as 80%—in comparison to conventional parking garages.

Contact Touch Points

Common Parking Lot Problem: The last two-plus years have made us all more alert to the number of germs, bacteria, and viruses we come in contact with every day, which some experts estimate is as high as 60,000. Many Americans are still fearful of the different strains of COVID and want to do everything possible to reduce their chance of contraction.

APS Solution: The best way a business can help combat this issue is by providing a meaningful reduction in general contact with people and objects. While an APS is not completely touch-free, there certainly are fewer contact points than are found at a typical garage. For example, patrons will not have to fret about getting into elevators with strangers or navigating through secluded stairwells in an APS. Better still, there is no interaction with valets or parking attendants, so no one else will ever need to be in the vehicle at any time.

The Takeaway

There are many compelling reasons an APS should be considered, not the least of which is a marked increase in safety.

Imagine being able to park in a garage without worrying about vehicle theft, break-ins, accidents, hit-and-runs, or vandalism. A place where a car’s retrieval process can be facilitated ahead of time simply by using a phone—and its exact arrival time is quickly determined. A place where there are no concerns about vehicle scratches or dents. And most important, a place where parking patrons can feel completely safe and at ease.

It’s as close to a “Parking Paradise” as it gets, and each of these stress-relieving and potentially life-saving benefits is available by installing an APS.

Ian Todd is EVP of Automated Parking at Westfalia, where he focuses on assisting lenders, developers, and architects with effectively solving parking problems.

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