An opportunity for cutting edge technology that improves the transit, parking experiences

A MARTA bus in Midtown Atlanta. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

ATLANTA, Oct. 17, 2016 — Metro Atlanta is increasingly becoming a hub for innovative technology companies. This trend toward cutting edge technology is having an impact on local municipalities and public agencies.

Services such as parking and transit were never historically a hotbed of technology innovation, but the times they are a changing, and that is great news for everyone.

The first of two recent examples involves the city of Atlanta’s recent RFP to replace PARKAtlanta. Bidders were asked to provide suggestions and innovative options for using today’s most current technology. A second example is MARTA, which is in the process of developing an application to replace the current Breeze card payment system.

Both could have a significant — and positive — impact on how Atlanta’s residents park and travel throughout the city.

We live in a time and place where technology is no longer an added bonus. It is engrained in our collective lives, and responsive governments and public agencies are smart to implement practical solutions that make the lives of everyone easier.

It’s fair to say the popularity of public transit is at or near an all-time high. Atlanta is experiencing the trend of millennials and younger professionals moving in town. Many are eschewing cars and opting to use public transportation or alternative forms of transportation.

Atlanta today is seeing serious discussion about expanding MARTA, something that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. Atlanta voters will head to the polls on Nov. 8 to vote on a pair of sales tax increases that, if approved, will bring in millions for transit improvements.

Now is the time to look at building a system that can adapt and grow with a changing population, and it all begins with the right solution.

Take this incredible statistic: By 2018, every college student will have a smart phone. The notion of a connected world is not a passing trend; it’s today’s reality. According to Gartner, there are an estimated 4.9 billion “connected things” in use in 2015. That’s an increase of 30 percent from 2014, and the number is slated to rise to a staggering 25 billion by 2020.

As a small business owner, I am acutely aware how much traffic and congestion can affect a business’ bottom line. Consider, for a moment, how we approach parking. Today, we primarily pull into a deck or a lot and drive around in circles until we find a space.

With the right technology solution, the potential exists to almost completely eliminate wasteful trolling for parking spaces, traffic congestion, bottlenecks and empty lots and decks during peak periods. The amount of time that could be saved could change lives and natural resources could be conserved at unprecedented levels.

The opportunity before us is to shape how Atlanta’s citizens interact with parking and transit — two integral parts of daily life. We should not view this opportunity as the time for a stopgap solution, but rather seize the chance to redefine the status quo and build a connected city from the ground up. We are no longer destined to be constrained by physical resources.

Technology enables us to throw off the shackles that limited us because of imperfect knowledge of options and allocation. We can identify exactly WHERE and WHEN resources are available, and move CONSUMERS to those resources instantly and with near perfect information.

With the right amount of vision, courage and chutzpah we can become unbound by the opportunity to draw on technology’s promise to build a truly connected city.

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Mitch Skyer
Mitch Skyer, has been President of Atlanta based Solstice Transportation Group since 2007 and Passio Technologies, since 2010. He has been in the transit and parking industry since 2002. Solstice and Passio work with universities, corporations, and municipalities throughout the country to provide transportation and parking operations with technology and consulting solutions. Mitch actively participates in several regional and national trade associations such as IPI, NACAS, and APTA. He graduated from Binghamton University and earned an MBA from the University at Buffalo. Mitch, his wife, and three children have lived in suburban Atlanta for more than 20 years.