Wireless Parking Solution Designed for Multi-Protocol Use

IP Parking offers all major wireless protocols with its automated, single-device solution, using Elatec readers, and is now planning UWB inclusion as well.
Published: March 27, 2023

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When IP Parking meets with prospective facility owner or business clients, they bring complex parking and credentialing needs. The company reports that mixed-use buildings and communities require a wide variety of technologies to serve their clientele. Apartment residents, hotel guests, shoppers and event ticket holders may all share parking areas, so IP Parking developed a solution with what it calls “a unique level of flexibility.”

Unlike other automated parking solutions that provide some version of parking access and management devices that accommodate protocols like HID Prox, MIFARE, Near Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), IP Parking says it offers them all. The parking solutions company builds its own access readers and gates using Elatec MultiTech 2 devices that can accommodate all commonly used mobile credentials, without requiring dedicated hardware for each.

That means a company that employs NFC, BLE and HID Prox cards could deploy IP Parking’s solution with a single type of reader, according to Lester Mascon, IP Parking’s president. Next, the firm is investigating the possibility of incorporating ultra-wideband (UWB) technology into its offerings as well, which could enable drivers to be recognized by parking gates without their needing to open windows to present an ID.

All Protocols on a Single Device

Numerous mobile phone providers are building UWB modules into their handsets, and this active and precise wireless technology provides a more specific location. This, IP Parking explains, allows greater functionality than some other common protocols. The use of multiple protocols is based on both geography (European and North American companies tend to use different wireless technologies) and application. Some drivers may have temporary access to parking, while others might carry badges or prefer to use their mobile phones. That can mean installing multiple readers or devices.

Elatec's MultiTech 2 reader-writer

Elatec’s MultiTech 2 reader-writer

“Most of our competition will provide a single reader technology,” Mascon says, “so it’ll be HID Prox or Indala, or it’ll be MIFARE only, or one of those types of credentials.” The Dutch was company founded in 2005 to provide parking-access and revenue-control systems, and its customers are global. The access component of its solution consists of a credential reader for parkers. The most common technology historically has been the MIFARE credential access card, as well as HID Prox in the United States. That meant different devices were necessary for customers in different parts of the world.

In recent years, IP Parking reports, some drivers have preferred to use their own smartphones, which come with NFC and BLE connectivity, since they can simply tap the phone against a reader device to be recognized. The company has thus been working with Elatec, which provides a more universal reader. Elatec’s MultiTech 2 reader-writer includes a 13.56 MHz HF RFID reader, compliant with ISO 15693, as well as NFC technology compliant with ISO 14443, according to J.T. Tepley, Elatec’s U.S. regional sales manager. It has a BLE radio for those connecting via the Bluetooth functionality in their device, and it can also manage LF RFID transmissions.

Altogether, the company reports, the system can work with approximately 60 RFID technologies, and as new tech enters the market, that may be added as well. Elatec readers can be found in all IP Parking products, Mascon adds, from validation terminals to pamphlet machines, entry or exit devices, and after-hours readers. IP Parking integrates the readers into its terminals so that whatever badge type customers may use to access a building, they can use that same credential. The goal is that customers will keep the infrastructure they already have in place and simply add IP Parking’s read stations.

Addressing Complex Parking Sites

Lester Mascon

Lester Mascon

Recent IP Parking deployments include the Reston Gateway development in Reston Town Center, located in Virginia. The center is home to retail, dining and events, and it offers both garage and street parking. The firm has deployed its solution, including readers with Elatec technology, to enable drivers to be recognized via NFC credentials, or to present an HID Prox card or a corporate proprietary card, with unique proprietary data, all using the same reader. IP Parking offers software to manage the collected read data and prompt the opening of gates, and the solution can be integrated with a user’s existing management software.

National Harbor Maryland, an enclosed environment of convention center, housing, offices, entertainment, shopping and dining facilities, and hotels, has deployed IP Parking’s solution. The location includes three covered parking garages, hotel and convention center parking, and street spaces. Guests can pay with NFC via Google Pay or Apple Pay, or via cash or credit cards, or they can use employee parking credentials. New York’s UBS Arena, home to the New York Islanders, is a Ticketmaster venue, Mascon says, and it utilizes NFC-based credentials and includes barcode scanning, along with other protocols for RFID.

IP Parking is currently looking into how ultra-wideband technology could be built into its existing solution. UWB is built into many handsets, the company explains, and a growing number of drivers can interact with a UWB system that identifies their precise location when they come within range of a reader (provided the UWB functionality is turned on).

Looking Ahead to UWB

UWB offers several benefits, Mascon says, due to its relatively long range and granular location detection. For instance, a driver could use a parking app for a specific site that leverages the phone’s UWB radio. As users approach the parking gate, the reader would detect their phone transmissions from a relatively long distance, identifying specifically where the phone is within centimeters. That would enable the system to differentiate between multiple lanes in a parking entrance, for example, as well as determine when the phone is directly in front of the gate.

J.T. Tepley

J.T. Tepley

With the use of UWB, Mascon speculates, “We can really have a windows-up experience.” Once the system has identified that a car is approaching a specific lane and has confirmed the authorized identity of the phone’s owner, the appropriate gate could automatically open to allow them entrance. Users would not need to stop or open the window to present a card or phone near the device. “In my opinion, ultra-wideband really is the future and the direction we’re trying to go in.” If UWB were integrated into an access solution, he adds, technology users would still require it to serve as part of their access-control ecosystem, and companies would continue to rely on other technologies, such as HF, NFC or BLE, for many tasks.

Elatec’s technology runs on the C programming language, Tepley says, so if developers need to add a functionality, they create a new firmware file and write a new software script. The reader will then be upgraded to support whatever new functionality is needed. In general, Tepley says, “Mobile credentials and people using their phones is definitely gaining more and more steam, [with] more and more providers popping up.”

Some drivers have a company phone, while others might prefer to use their personal phones to gain entrance to an office. The common denominator is the need for a building owner or operator to offer such flexibility. “It’s really the end customer that sets the standard for the markets,” Tepley states, “and it’s up to the providers like IP Parking to make it work somehow with their products.”


Key Takeaways:

  • IP Parking offers a universal solution for Europe, North America and other parts of the world that accommodates up to 60 kinds of RFID, leveraging Elatec’s MultiTech 2 reader.
  • The Dutch parking solutions company is now investigating UWB technology so that those parking their cars, who have UWB capabilities in their phones, could be recognized and allowed access without opening their windows.