In late November of 2019, Quality Counts used an innovative approach for a parking turnover study in the Town of Chapel Hill, NC. The project marked the first official Semi-Automated Parking Study performed by Quality Counts. This approach captures data with dashcams that are driven along a preplanned route. After collection, the geo-tagged footage is then run through semi-automated software that pulls the license plate information automatically. The data collection was managed by Robert Berryhill out of the Raleigh, North Carolina office. Robert coordinated and delivered the project to The Community Safety Planner, Meg McGurk.
The data collection was performed on both a week and a Saturday for three hours on each day. The 4-mile preplanned route required only a single driver and took about 45 minutes to cover all 1632 parking stalls. With traditional methods the same study would require multiple staff members on-site and be less cost efficient. Weather varied from clear to partly cloudy on both days which resulted in clear video. There were three parking garages included in the survey which required some additional planning due to the lack of GPS signal. Additionally, the last hour for each day required slight adjustments to exposure and driving speeds to maintain nighttime visibility. The software ultimately recognized the majority of the license plates leaving only a few areas needing to be manually reduced.
Overall, the project was a positive experience and provided Quality Counts with insights into future semi-automated parking studies. There are a few areas to pay attention to in the future for similar studies. Having extra cameras to double up the video collection is critical to prevent a total loss in the event of a camera failure. Using “Map” mode and having high contrast colors for the preplanned route is important to keep track of the assigned path. Also, adjusting the exposure worked well for the low light areas on this study. However, an additional light source should be considered for data collection areas with little to no light. This was definitely a learning experience for Quality Counts and we are looking forward to utilizing the technology for more applications in the future.
For more information on parking studies contact Robert Berryhill at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Berryhill began his career with QC as a Field Technician in 2008. During his time at QC, he has gained valuable experience and expertise in a broad spectrum of transportation studies including classification, speed, and volume counts, turning movement counts, origination-destination studies, and parking lot surveys. Robert currently serves as Operations Manager for QC’s Raleigh/Durham office and regularly assists with data collection projects throughout the Southeast.