Parkable a key player in sustainable modernisation of the built environment

by Helena Morgan
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Capable of eliciting frustration and grimaces, delaying arrivals and departures, and easily turning a good day bad, parking is a pain for people, businesses and the planet, and a pain that flexible parking management software company Parkable is determined to mitigate one facility at a time. 

Parkable seeks to eliminate the time, energy, and morale that facilities unnecessarily dedicate to parking, by offering effortless and seamless car park management and reducing parking administration by up to 93 percent.

Like many people, Parkable CEO Toby Littin gets easily emotional about parking. 

He says the start of Parkable came down to this emotional response he had, in addition to a conversation with a friend eight years ago. The pair expressed shared disdain towards the inaccessibility and inefficiency of parking – this conversation also featured Littin shamelessly presenting six parking tickets as evidence of the unsustainability of current parking methods.

He decided to address the complications, disruptions, and impacts of parking by developing software that takes into account human behaviour in managing parking facilities

“Parking’s broken for humans. It’s a terrible experience,” says Littin. 

“It’s broken for business – it costs businesses huge amounts of money in the form of operating costs and lost revenue.”

Small but significant ways to help save the planet 

Littin boasts a varied career background – he has been involved in a number of startups in sectors such as renewable energy and lithium manufacturing for rechargeables. 

His involvement in an innovation funding program for the New Zealand government sparked interest in pursuing a lifelong dream, to combine his passion for sustainability and founding a business – enter Parkable.

Littin underscores that parking is a time and energy drainer, particularly as infrastructure from even 20 years ago did not consider the advent of electric vehicles (EV). 

“Parking is terrible for the planet – lots of people driving to places and then driving around the block looking for parking,” he says. “And if you’re in an EV, there’s occasionally nowhere to charge it.”

He rejects the idea that sustainable living and working practices are just passing trends – this realignment of the way we live and work is an opportunity for innovation and ingenuity, and to inspire lasting global change.

‘It’s not everyone’s job to save the world, but it’s everyone’s job to contribute and everyone can and every business can,” says Littin. And these contributions do not need to be loud and proud – curing cancer or finding a ceaseless free energy source – yet reducing ecological footprints and pledging solidarity with the planet.

“Everyone can leave their corner a little bit better off than when they started,” says Littin. Small and achievable steps towards a sustainable and mindful future produce a ripple effect and reverberate around an organisation or facility.

Littin underscores that parking is a time and energy drainer, particularly as infrastructure from even 20 years ago did not consider the advent of electric vehicles (EV).

Beneficial, convenient and profitable

Founded in 2015, Parkable specifically services workplaces and commercial real estate properties. Parkable’s presence at such facilities enriches the daily experience of both employees and administration staff. Companies such as Car Sales, Seek, REA, Xero and KPMG rely on Parkable to organise their parking on a daily basis

All forms of parking are managed via Parkable – workplaces that offer casual (first-in-first served) parking, individually allocated parking, visitor parking, electric vehicle charging, tandem parking, Event and public parking.

Administration staff can toss away complex spreadsheets, allocate parking and schedule future bookings through an easy-to-use application and platform. Employees have full visibility of the parking list and can reserve a park up to a week in advance. 

On the days employees are not in the office, their car park is available for other people to use in a ‘sharing pool’ – remedying the wasteful reality of an average commercial car park being 35 percent empty at any given time. This creates an inclusive and fair playing field, as more people are regularly offered access to parking.

Flexibility even with an unknown weekly schedule 

Parkable is a way to make amenities flexible – the company evolving with the evolving hybrid weekforce with gusto.

“There are a lot of property owners who are really embracing change,” says Littin. 

Parkable assists the property owners at all stages of building lifecycle, from initial lease up, all the way to fully occupied and managing the hybrid work patterns of the week – perhaps quiet Mondays and busy Tuesdays – and ensure that even when occupancy rates are unpredictable, parking can align with lease requirements.  

“Lease-up has proven to be a bit difficult for owners and tenants who both need flexibility,” says Littin. “We solve for that by making sure that the parking can match the lease-up requirements and that it can be flexible post-lease-up, so tenants manage according to their work schedule, and easily access parking as and when needed.”

Littin highlights the benefits of property owners being able to advertise a building as a Parkable-enabled building. “Tenants know they’re getting a premium amenity, offering flexibility for their employees if they sign a lease with this Parkable-enabled building,” he says. 

Parkable offers businesses and properties the opportunity to make parking profitable – unused and unleased car parking spaces can be turned into extra income by allowing tenants and members of the public to use them.  

For organisations that charge employees for parking, Parkable’s software oversees convenient and easy payments – automatic revenue payments are sent monthly, meaning a recouping of costs, a revenue stream and the option to establish a charity fund.  

“We generate new forms of revenue for the building owner,” says Littin. Our tech can release excess  parking space, in real time, to be monetized with existing tenants in the building. This will help owners generate more revenue, enhance the tenant experience, and eliminate the need to allow public access”.

A human-centric approach to parking

“Parking can really suck for the people using it,”  says Littin. “This is why we built Parkable”.

The Parkable CEO vows to break free from the rigid, outdated approach to designing parking, as it doesn’t consider the unexpected bumps of a day, week or month – meetings running over, losing keys, traffic and picking kids up from school.

In a commercial real estate setting, the frustration directed towards a lack of parking spaces or heinously expensive parking tickets can bleed into a business and dampen the mood of an organisation. “All of that human pain and suffering goes into the business as there is no human-centric thinking around the way parking is designed,” says Littin.

He says a lack of humanity in both parking design and business operations necessitates major reform and change, particularly with the unmoving hybrid and flexible workforce. “There’s a real need for flexibility that doesn’t exist inside the business environment historically,” says Littin.

Technology is the way to make the hybrid workforce functional

Littin predicts that the hybrid workforce will become the new norm, but what that looks like is still up in the air because standards keep changing. We haven’t reached a stable point yet.

“There’s a way to go before anyone can say this is the new normal.We haven’t reached a stable point yet,” he says.

Littin maintains that innovative and sustainable digital solutions such as Parkable – or HID mobile access and Foodifox heated lockers – inject vibrancy and convenience into a workday and create happier and healthier workplace environments and cultures.

“Let’s adopt technology that makes it fun and easy, and it shouldn’t matter where I’m working from unless it’s work that I need to do in person,” says Littin. There are some in-person perks that are inseparable from an office such as team meetings, bonding and spitballing and workshopping ideas, however, technology can be harnessed to make the workweek more convenient.

Parkable has a front-row seat to modernisation of the workforce

Parkable is primarily city and metropolitan-based, as Littin confirms high-density areas report higher levels of parking woes due to clogged streets, larger populations and chaos. The team is continuously evaluating areas where Parkable can make the most impact – facilities that struggle with hybrid working or transportation challenges.

“I guess for us it comes back to where we can have the biggest impact and where we can help people and have the most fun,” says Littin. 

Parkable’s bread and butter is the commercial real estate sector, yet its soaring popularity is promoting other facilities to reach out – the company is celebrating securing the University of Cambridge as a client.

The rapid modernisation of the built environment also demands the need for reliable and accessible EV infrastructure – an area Parkable is eager to excel in. “There’s a lot of development at Parkable over the next five years in the EV space if we’re going to be true to our mission and purpose,” says Littin.

Digital future must be accessible and shared

The high frequency of products and experiences being reimagined in a digital arena means a digital future is inescapable. Littin wants to see clear and transparent communication about the digitisation process, as it affects everyone. “Everybody is your customer in [the digital arena] – it’s not like you can pick your demographic.”

He believes communication is essential to make the digital process enjoyable and lively for vendors, product vendors and facilities managers. 

Littin predicts the social aspect of environmental social governance gaining more traction – citing Parkable clients ISPT and CBRE and their community placemaking initiative that seeks to deliver equity in prosperity. 

“I think we’ll see more and more initiatives like this,” he says.“They’re part of a community and they’re part of an ecosystem, and it’s important that the people that work in their buildings see that future too.” 

The pursuit towards a technologically innovative and sustainable future is more powerful when shared. Littin believes that putting people at the centre of business operations is crucial for uniting and motivating everyone toward this vision.

Parking is just one challenge of medium to high-density living

Underutilised and insufficient parking is a reality excruciatingly familiar to medium and high-density living, in addition to a slew of other issues that Littin believes could be better attacked by looking beyond political cycles. 

“I think we really need to sort out our regulation and get alignment beyond political cycles for what high density and medium density can look like,” he says.

Littin acknowledges the delicacies of medium and high-density living, yet emphasises the need to craft sustainable urban planning solutions without the influences of current politics. 

“It is expensive to roll out developments and to improve the standard of dwelling and the standard of cities,” he says. “It’s harder to get your hands on the money, so it’s harder to start the project, which delays it further.”

High-density living can be difficult to advertise as appealing and attractive to a wide demographic. However, Littin emphasises the potential inherent in simple yet meaningful high-density build-to-rent communities – evident via Chobham Manor, a residential village in East London and ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s amenity-rich community in Footscray, Cowper Residences.

“I think we’ve learned so much about doing more with less,” he says. Littin maintains that investing in collective amenities such as community gardens, barbecue areas and shared parking spaces is invaluable, as it enables “access to a better standard of living”.

He reiterates the assertion that everyone should feel empowered to participate in the movement towards a healthier future using resources both big and small. “Parkable is a small piece of the drive to enable people to do more with less,” finishes Littin. 

Lead Photo: Parkable CEO Toby Littin.

Photography supplied by Parkable. 

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