BIG DATA and SMALL CITY
By Mitch Osur
I first really learned about Big Data at the PIE show 2016 in Las Vegas, It was talked about in a lot of the seminars I participated in. Then I was lucky enough in the exhibitor area of the show to connect with a company called Smarking. They said they could turn my parking data into useful and presentable information. WOW have they done a great job for the city of Aspen.
The big data has given me the ability to measure and graphically display, with data the exact results of the programs and initiatives I have worked on in Aspen. It has become significantly easier to communicate and prove our results to the public, city council, and the media on what Aspen’s goals are and why we made the changes that have been instituted.
The big data has helped the city of Aspen evaluate data and optimize price points and visually communicate goals and results to all interested stakeholders in the community. The data I review every day is hourly peak occupancy, peak occupancy, revenue by type, and duration.
I have been able to track real time results and compare those results against the stated goals I shared with city council.
Aspen has extreme seasonal demand for parking, with thousands of tourists driving in the summer season. In 2015 parking occupancy’s varied from around 50% occupied in the off-peak season and over 100% occupied in the busy summer months. With the help of big data I was able to convince City Council to try a 3 month test program in 2016 to manage the parking demand.
The policies put in place to help alleviate parking and traffic congestion included:
- Increase parking prices 50% only during the peak summer season in the downtown core
- Keep parking prices low in the parking garage and residential areas
- Started a FREE Downtowner door-to-door, on demand electric shuttle service
- Implement a Drive-Less campaign
- Promoted the use of We-Cycle, Aspen’s shared bike program
The goal was to
- Reduce car traffic coming into Aspen
- Cut down on congestion of cars in town
- Have no more than 90% parking occupancy in the Downtown core
- Increase transit, carpool, pedestrian and bicycle trips
- Encourage parking in the parking garage, Brush Creek Intercept lot and the residential zones
The 3 month test was carefully measured and results showed that the program went above expectations. Parking occupancy decreased during peak periods, making it easier for visitors to find a place to park. Parking turnover increased, revenue increased and more vehicles parking in the parking garage and in the residential area rather than the congested downtown core. In addition the number that really matters is that Aspen had one of its best retail and restaurant summers ever with sales tax revenue up over 20% for the summer months.
With the help of big data we were able to prove to City Council and the citizens that the plan worked exactly as laid out, we achieved all of the goals as rolled out. Because I was able to show City Council the data in real time is was easy to get City Council to adopt the new Parking prices for the future. We will now have 7 months of higher parking prices and 5 months of lower parking prices.
The next step for Aspen is to use the big data to go to real dynamic pricing and change the parking prices by day of the week and month of the year, with Smarking’s help I believe we can get the planned approved in the next 6 months.
For more information or details reach out to:
Parking Director, City of Aspen