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Access Greatness: RFID Managed Parking Lots

RFID access controls keep vehicles and people moving smoothly in and out of parking lots, improving security, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

RFID parking lot management and access control markets

When was the last time you saw a phone booth, a real working phone booth with a pay phone? Been a while. How about a toll booth on the highway, the kind where cars have to stop to hand money to a person or at least slow down enough to toss some coins into a basket? Maybe a bit more recently, but you still had to think back a bit. Now what about a parking lot attendant booth, the kind that needs to be manned at least during normal business hours if not 24/7; the kind that often has several cars idling in the queue waiting to get in or out; the kind that can’t tell you much more about the status of your parking lot other than the number of cars in the lot?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably work in parking lot management, so you might be able to look out your window and see an example of what we’re talking about. If that’s the case, our next question is: Why?

Active and passive RFID have their place in parking lot management

RFID systems come in passive and active forms. Passive RFID managed parking systems require the reader and the credential to be in close range: when you scan an access badge to enter a building or office or to lift the gate to get in or out of a parking lot, you’re interacting with passive RFID. These systems are less expensive and have less physical infrastructure on both sides than active systems.

Active systems work over a longer range and, therefore, can work at speed. Depending on the strength of the RFID transmitters, active systems can cover a range of up to 300 feet.   

Both have their place in parking lot management, even within the same facility or same lot.

Because of the cost and necessary materials, passive RFID is ideal for deploying at scale. Hangtags and windshield decals are the simplest and most cost-effective solution for employees, students and regular visitors. Their low price reduces the cost to you or the end user for a replacement tag, and the ease with which a lost tag can be deactivated ensures that a misplaced tag doesn’t lead to unauthorized access to your parking lot.

Passive RFID tags are also fully customizable. This allows universities to issue easily recognizable parking tags each semester or school year, while also having the option to “roll over” the existing set of tags. Entertainment venues, museums, amusement parks and other cultural or recreational sites can also design their tags to denote season-pass holders, reserved lot access or high-value donors or sponsors.

Active RFID parking management streamlines vendor and commercial traffic

Of course, employees’ and guests’ cars are not the only vehicles that need access to your parking lot. You have deliveries, vendors, contractors and the rest. For many of these parties and their vehicles, active RFID managed parking is worth the cost.

A small number of commercial vehicles can jam up an access control point faster than the same number of cars. This can impact the traffic flow entering your facility, wastes time and money, and puts more vehicle exhaust into the air around the lot. With active RFID, your regular commercial visitors can trigger the gate control well before they reach the access point. They can then drive right through and go about their business. And, depending on the size of their vehicle, they may particularly appreciate not having to get out or awkwardly reach out the window to scan their credential.

Like with the passive RFID systems, when the active RFID system detects a vehicle’s arrival, instant notifications can be spread to whoever needs to know. The appropriate employees will know that a delivery, vendor or contractor has arrived and they can then be waiting to meet them, again improving efficiency for both sides.

RFID combines gate access control with facility-wide security

RFID managed parking lot access systems are fully customizable in their infrastructure and applications. These systems let you control access not just at the external entrance to your lot, but within any subdivisions of your lot.

One tag can open as many or as few gates as you want. If you have executive or VIP parking, you can have an additional access point for those spaces that allow entry to only the appropriate tag holders. The marginal cost of adding that access point is much lower than it would be if you needed a manned attendant booth. Even without additional personnel on site, RFID systems increase the security of the parking lot. Because the RFID systems control exit as well as entry, a facility’s security staff always have at their fingertips a real-time view of which cars – specifically, whose cars – are where in their lots. No one wants a car to leave the lot with the wrong driver any more than they want the wrong car to enter the lot.

The tracking features are not just for the parking lot managers and security staff. Parking lot RFID systems power the displays drivers see telling them how many parking spots are available on different floors of the garage or in different corners of the lot. Real-time displays can direct drivers to the closest available spot when they arrive, and then to the quickest exit on the way out.

WW&L’s e-commerce solution for parking lot management

RFID systems and parking lot control have become an industry-standard pair. That’s why WW&L has a dedicated e-commerce site for our parking lot management equipment. Whether you need to order the next semester’s worth of hangtags or a full active RFID set-up to support your company’s expansion, WW&L has everything just a few clicks away.

And as always, if you’re not entirely sure what you need or have a few lingering questions about how to streamline your parking lot security and access controls, WW&L is here to answer any questions you have and talk through your project.