Q&A: INRIX’s ParkMe acquisition

September 15, 2015
INRIX infographic about on-street parking

INRIX contends that its acquisition of ParkMe will make for an even smoother parking experience for end users.

Real-time traffic data company INRIX just announced its acquisition of ParkMe, one of the biggest databases of parking in the U.S. While ParkMe and Inrix have been working together for three years (ParkMe is the powerhouse behind INRIX’s Off-Street Parking app), now, ParkMe will deliver up-to-date information on tens of millions of spaces in nearly 2,000 cities throughout the world to INRIX. Mark Pendergrast, Director of Product Management at INRIX, and Mark Braibanti, Director of Marketing and Business Development at ParkMe, sat down to chat about the acquisition, how the company plans to evolve, and the benefits of the new deal.

Will the ParkMe app remain intact?

MP: The ParkMe app will remain branded as-is, and will operate under its own tagline. Twenty-five staffers, the core team, were brought over in their entirety to INRIX as employees, a de facto parking experts team.

How does this acquisition move INRIX toward its goal of being a major player in the autonomous vehicle market? What space are you trying to stake out?

MP: The autonomous vehicle will rely heavily on intelligent, predictive parking in order to be a viable solution to smart transportation of the future, especially as it relates to the ‘last mile navigation’ for drivers looking to find a parking space for their autonomous car. Additionally, the smart parking market is a rapidly emerging space that is growing 28% annually, and expected to will be worth $3 billion in the next 10 years. And while INRIX is poised to take the lead in this market, we are also positioned well to be the top source of aggregated, actionable data for not only carmakers, but state and federal DOTs, smart city planners and connected cars worldwide.

How do you ensure INRIX’s long-term viability in this particular market?

MP: The influx of population and vehicles in downtown areas choke city roads with congestion, becoming exacerbated as people drive around in circles looking for parking. It’s estimated that 30% of congestion is caused by drivers looking for parking. The data that INRIX provides becomes an important part of smart city planning and connected car technology and IoT for automakers.

Where do you source your data?

MP: INRIX’s expertise is in aggregating and leveraging intelligence in diverse data sources. We combine data from cities, mobile payment companies, real-time parking data, connected car-sharing services, and its vast supply of real-time vehicle GPS data.

How do you ensure quality of the data?

MP: Prior to the acquisition, INRIX conducted a thorough multi-city ground truth based parking data quality comparative study in Europe, with a special focus on Germany. INRIX will not rest until the quality statistics demonstrate a clear advantage for our company and best quality delivered to consumers and partners. INRIX plans to continue to invest in improving quality. Examples of efforts underway include adding additional data sources, improving technical integration with downstream suppliers, and continuing to conduct ongoing ground truth testing to provide input feedback from the field.

Most important, however, is the fact that now INRIX has direct control over its data quality end-to-end for its customers. One way this is achieved is by leveraging ParkMe’s extensive experience with conducting ground truth testing of parking data on a large scale. This will enable INRIX to more efficiently provide input and prioritization of this effort within the company and share it more broadly

What’s the lag time?

MP: INRIX has access to a wide range of real time data sources used for its parking services – ranging from dynamic occupancy statistics from parking operators and anonymous transaction information to real time traffic probe information. All of these sources provide useful and timely insight into parking conditions, whether on street or off street. With real time data, the lag time involved could be less than a minute from data capture to being distributed/used by the driver in the connected car.

How will you improve access to data?

MP: INRIX is committed to continuing to improve both the quality and coverage of its parking products over time. Among the ways we will ensure this improvement is through conducting ongoing (and often in person) quality checks of our data, as well as through partnerships with leading parking operators, suppliers, and vendors with whom we will collaborate in providing value add parking services to the industry. Furthermore, as the penetration of Connected Cars becomes more widespread, INRIX will benefit from being able to collect a wider range of anonymous vehicle data from a growing volume of cars – all of which may have benefits to understanding parking conditions.

What is the single most exciting aspect of the acquisition?

MP: The most exciting part of this are the added capabilities that ParkMe brings to the INRIX portfolio: Expansive on-street parking service, and capabilities in the parking transaction and reservation systems, which are all features [that car manufacturers] are interested in bringing into the car itself, within the navigation system for the driver.

MB: Larger distribution. And it’s really cool that now we have the potential [to provide the] capability to drivers of, instead of fumbling with your smartphone or reserving your spot ahead of time, to do that with your in-car navigation system.

What are some benefits the company brings to the end user?

MB: Thirty percent of urban congestion is caused by people searching for parking; if we can reduce the time it takes for people to find parking, it reduces stress and greenhouse gas emissions.

MP: Our ability to make it easier for drivers also has a big impact on vehicle emissions, and by extension green standards and air quality within a large city. As you make it easier for people to come and go from their destination and find parking, you’re helping reduce emissions within a city. With the data we make available, suddenly we’re providing solutions for people.

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Category: Parking Tech

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