As of July 2021, Parquery’s smart parking solution has continually been monitoring two parking lots of Hasler + Co AG for over three years. The car parks serve two retailers, Hasler + Co AG’s headquarters and Decathlon, which sells sports equipment. They are located in a commercial district in Winterthur, North-East Switzerland.
Effectively managing and providing sufficient parking is essential to Hasler + Co AG’s business in hardware and tools. Their customers are chiefly in the construction and craft sectors, such as builders, carpenters, metal workers, and mechanics who pick up material and tools with their vehicles. However, also private customers heavily rely on their cars to pick up heavy or bulky items.
Retail is a competitive market. Providing sufficient and satisfactory parking has become an essential customer service, particularly for shopping developments outside the town center.
If customers can be sure to easily and quickly find convenient parking near the shop’s entrance or exit, they are likely to return. However, some drivers park in one shop’s lot and visit another, overstay after shopping, or exploit a retailer’s lot as low-cost or cost-free parking. They block valuable space and might impede other customers from finding one.
Thus, managing parking well can draw in customers, strengthen their loyalty, and, therefore, have an impact on footfall and turnover.
Parking spaces are already scarce in Winterthur, and following a global trend, the city administration has been pushing for a shift to public transport. Further reducing available parking is one of the pillars of their strategy for urban transportation planning. Yet, at the same time, they promote the growth of the commercial center on the city’s outskirts.
When an additional retail complex with 7500 square meters for eight shops and only 75 parking spots was planned next to Hasler & Co AG’s headquarters in 2018, they expected the parking situation to worsen considerably.
To ensure sufficient parking for their clients, Hasler wanted to evaluate the evolution of the parking usage and behavior over time: from before the construction of the new retail park to after its completion. Innovative and driven entrepreneur Christof Hasler, the company’s managing director, was quick to appreciate the strengths of smart parking for this purpose.
Parking spaces are a precious commodity that must be managed optimally.
Parquery is a good tool to analyze occupancy - it is an ingenious solution that works.
Christof Hasler, CEO, Hasler + Co AG
The project includes two retailer’s outdoor parking lots, one of Hasler + Co AG and one serving the neighboring sports equipment retailer Decathlon. Three cameras monitor a total of 74 parking spaces, both day and nighttime. The cameras are mounted on light poles in the center, and to one side of the parking lots.
Together, Hasler and Parquery moved ahead swiftly, and the project was operative within two months. This timespan included project evaluation and planning, procuring and mounting the cameras, and training Parquery’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms on the camera footage collected. Ever since its launch, the project has been running and providing Christof Hasler with insights into the usage of his parking lots.
Parquery’s solution can be adopted with minimal effort, cost, and technology. Because it doesn't need ground sensors and whatnot.
It is easy to install, and you can also expand it. It's modular. Tomorrow, I can say, now I'll add another parking lot, and I get an accurate analysis.
Christof Hasler, CEO, Hasler + Co AG
From a technical point of view, this project harbored a couple of interesting challenges that demonstrate the strengths and suitability of learning AI algorithms. Those algorithms learn by experience and adapt to new circumstances by analyzing and inferring from patterns in the data. This ability is especially valuable for applications with much variance and ensures high detection accuracy.
Being a hardware and tools retailer with extensive services, most of Hasler + Co AG’s customers are construction workers and tradesmen who arrive in their trade vehicles. Consequently, on Hasler’s parking lot, one finds a broad range of vehicles, both private and commercial, with widely varying appearances: from typical cars to delivery vans, pickups, flatbed trucks, box and curtain-side trucks, both with and without an assortment of trailers, with and without additional superstructures such as roof racks. Flatbed trucks, pickups, and trailers come either empty or stocked with the equipment of their trade, ranging from boxes, tools and appliances, wood, bushes and trees, over sand and gravel, to construction and earthmoving machinery such as excavators. Ladders, equipment, and bits and bobs are also frequently strapped onto roof racks. All of these profoundly change the characteristics and appearances of the vehicles and challenge any detection algorithm.
Diverse range of vehicles with and without equipment visible.
Truck with a trailer extending over two parking spaces captured on two different cameras. Note that the smear of the raindrop does not impair the detection.
Moreover, although Hasler’s parking spaces are generously sized to accommodate larger vehicles, they often extend beyond. In particular, those with trailers regularly occupy several spots, at times up to four. Furthermore, drivers do not always conform to the boundary markings. Hence, detection of partial vehicles and partial occupancy is essential for this specific parking lot to ensure high accuracy.
Example of several trucks parked over 3-4 parking spots, captured on two cameras.
Left: sketch of the situation in birds-eye view, with cameras (gray/black) and their respective fields of view (blue, green areas), outline of parking spaces (yellow), and the parked trucks.
Right: cropped footage of the cameras, overlaid dots indicate occupancy (amber - occupied, green - vacant) Note that the cameras do not fully cover the rightern-most spots, nevertheless, the detection works.
Installed well before the building of the new retail park, Parquery’s solution allowed Hasler to evaluate the effect of the new retail center on the parking situation and compare usage both before and after. The data gave definite and unambiguous proof that the occupancy rate darted up significantly once the new retail park opened, particularly in those areas closest to its entrance.
Christof Hasler values Parquery’s solution as an objective and accurate instrument to monitor and optimally manage their car park day-to-day. With Parquery’s smart parking software, he can rely on hard and fast numbers and make data-driven decisions rather than turn to subjective impressions. It allows him to evaluate the capacity, understand parking behavior and usage - notably when correlated with sales figures - and, thus, ensure customer satisfaction. Furthermore, he appreciates the added benefit of providing solid picture proof if a vehicle was parked longer than paid for.
Parquery delivers an accurate analysis of the occupancy and extensive options for analysis and evaluation with reasonable technical and financial effort.
That is the attraction of the Parquery solution.
Christof Hasler, CEO, Hasler + Co AG
Hasler + Co AG is a family-run business group operating retail stores for hardware and tools for both professional craftsmen and do-it-yourself enthusiasts at several locations in Switzerland. Their products and services go beyond the traditional trade and range from equipment checks and maintenance, repairs, and rental services to digital solutions such as mobile warehousing and electronic access control systems. Its headquarters have been in Winterthur, North-Eastern Switzerland, since 1853.