2017 NPA Innovation Awards
In October, the National Parking Association (NPA) announced the winners of its 2017 Innovation Awards. Arguably the most prestigious prizes in parking, the NPA Innovation Awards recognize our industry’s stand-out professionals, businesses, projects and facilities.
Among those to be recognized this year was Thomas Leathers, parking administrator for the City of Durham, N.C., who was named NPA’s Innovator of the Year. Impark subsidiaries Republic Parking and Municipal Citation Solutions (MCS) have had the honor of working with Thomas and the City of Durham since 2015 — a fruitful partnership that has transformed the municipality’s approach to parking management.
Though admittedly surprised by his NPA award, Thomas has embraced his Innovator of the Year designation: “This award gives me added confidence to continue on with my creativity and forward growth in the public sector and the parking industry. It’s also allowed me to be enveloped in a support base of parking professionals, which has been a very humbling and gratifying experience.”
Thomas’s Parking Innovations
Thomas has been leading the City of Durham’s parking division for just three years, making the modernizations and improvements he’s facilitated all the more impressive. With support from Republic Parking and MCS, he has led the City of Durham to embrace a variety of parking management innovations, including a cloud-based parking access revenue control system (PARCS), solar-powered meters, a mobile payment system, and license plate recognition (LPR).
“At Republic Parking’s recommendation, the city uses license plates as digital parking permits for customers in its residential parking garages and surface parking lots,” Thomas says. “The pay-by-plate system has made parking enforcement more efficient and effective. The mobile LPR-enabled enforcement vehicles can check multiple license plates per second and verify their payment status. The system has also encouraged higher turnover of on-street parking spaces by eliminating the ‘piggybacking’ factor,” i.e., the phenomenon that allows parkers to use leftover meter time.
With Thomas at the helm of the parking management division, the NPA reports that the City of Durham has seen more than a $1 million increase in parking revenue per annum, and $27.9 million of investments dedicated to parking capital improvement and infrastructure projects.
But Thomas doesn’t intend to stop there: “I’m proud of all of the innovations that our team has been able to adopt and implement, but I’m equally excited about the next round of innovations that we’re planning to implement in the very near future.”
“We have several initiatives in the pipeline that will continue our legacy of driving bold innovation, changing culture, and continuing to build an ongoing ability to tackle big problems and deliver better results to customers and stakeholders.”
As for the future of the parking industry? The answer, for Thomas, is in the cloud: “The emergence of cloud–based, vendor–hosted parking solutions that contain robust data analytic platforms and mobile applications has definitely garnered my interest and excitement!”
Experienced parking management companies offer municipalities much more than just increased meter revenue, commonly garnering greater productivity, traffic flow improvements, and a reduction in pollution levels. For Thomas, the city’s partnership with Impark is an essential component of their continuing success. “In today’s environment, parking professionals are grappling with growing and complex challenges while trying to provide real results for constituents,” Thomas says. “It’s imperative that municipalities partner with a reputable, forward-thinking parking management firm that embraces innovation and is committed to the optimal service delivery of creative, scalable, and sustainable solutions.”
We can’t help but agree.
On behalf of Republic Parking, MCS, and Impark as a whole, we’d like to extend our sincere congratulations to Thomas on this exceptional achievement. We look forward to continuing our prosperous partnership with both you and the City of Durham for many years to come.