Last month, Coord’s CEO Stephen Smyth and I traveled to sunny Anaheim, California for the International Parking and Mobility Institute (IPMI)’s annual conference. In the vein of my previous diary entries, I thought I’d recap some of what we learned and inspired by over the 4 days.
It’s been an exciting journey to see how IPMI has evolved over recent years, and this year was no different. IPMI has expanded its focus from off-street parking to a more holistic mobility perspective, embracing change in both their name and the presentation topics to acknowledge the expanding role of parking professionals.
We arrived on Sunday and went straight to Transportation Camp, a conference-within-a-conference focused on open, candid discussion between professionals from every part of the parking and mobility ecosystem. We submitted a session idea ahead of time and were fortunate enough to be selected to present! I co-lead the session with Passport’s Nathan Berry on the digital curb. The conversation was lively, ranging from why the digital curb is important to what it looks like today in terms of enforcement and what type of data cities and parking managers need and want to have to be able to effectively manage the curb.
After a night of food, refreshments and socializing with our parking and mobility peers, the next three days followed a fairly similar schedule. In the morning, there would be a variety of lectures, discussions and talks. We’re obviously passionate about curbs at Coord, so we were excited to see no fewer than 5 of the ~70 sessions over the three days focused on some aspect of curbside management!
Stephen and I made a point of attending as many morning sessions as we could, learning from newcomers and veterans alike about their curb management pain points. Some of our favorites were Brett Wood’s (Associate at Kimley Horn) presentation on the emerging trends in parking and Charley DeBow’s (CEO of CurbTrac) ShopTalk on curb management, both of which were informative and full of spirited audience discussion and debate.
The afternoons were reserved for exhibiting at booths in the main hall. We’re big fans of using Lego street signs, scooters and streets to simply illustrate how our technology works, so we shipped our Lego streetscape to the conference and had it as the focal point of our booth. This turned out to be quite the hit; we had attendees come up to us saying other conference goers told them to come see the Lego world we’d built, and a number of fruitful conversations about curb management came out of these chance encounters.
My favorite part of the entire conference was this time at our booth. There were many people we’d only ever met via email or played phone tag with that we were finally able to meet in-person, including, among others, employees from both cities (Seattle, Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis and Miami Beach) and engineering firms (AECOM, Nelson\Nygaard, Tim Haahs). Virtual conversation is functional, but it’s still not a replacement for in-person conversation, especially when everyone is at the conference with the express goal of meeting and learning from their peers.
Curbs all day every day for our CEO Stephen Smyth: for work and for play (legos!)
Four days went by quickly, and we were soon packing up and on a plane back to New York, our minds buzzing with new product ideas and excited to work with the city and engineering firms we met to build a useful curb management platform.
In fact, we’ve already added a number of features based on feedback and thoughts that emerged from the conference. One of these changes came from a repeated complaint in the ShopTalk on curbside management about the difficulty of sharing parking data and related insights between city agencies (e.g. between Department of Public Works and the city parking authority). Hearing this, we’ve now adjusted our licensing structure to allow for unlimited users and quick link sharing of our analytics tool within a city government.
Based on our experience, the IPMI team has put together a conference that is a must-attend event for those in parking and mobility. The quality of leaders and conversations we had were invaluable. It was my first time at IPMI, but we’ll definitely be back next year, if only to show how much we’ve grown our Lego fleet!