Divvy ups car parking spaces in jam-packed Sydney CBD

by FM Media
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Knight Frank, a leading global commercial and real estate consultancy, partnered with Divvy Parking to help manage and market vacant parking spaces in its commercial portfolio in Sydney’s CBD and North Sydney. Facility Management magazine spoke to Nick Austin, CEO of Divvy Parking, to find out more about the parking solution.

Facility Management: Tell us more about the technology behind Divvy and how the idea came about.
Nick Austin: Divvy Parking’s solution connects commuters with underutilised parking spaces in commercial property buildings around the CBD. Divvy currently has partnerships with major commercial property groups including DEXUS, GPT Group and Knight Frank who use the solution to help manage and improve the yield on their extensive portfolio of parking assets throughout the CBD. Currently Divvy offers monthly bookings but is close to rolling out industry first mobile access technology that will let people book and access secure short term parking with ease through their smartphone.

We offer a simple, smart solution that gives facility managers and property owners greater visibility, flexibility and control over who is using the parking facilities in their networks.

The idea for Divvy Parking came from my interest in the growing trend of collaborative consumption, popularised by high growth companies like Uber and AirBnB. Before founding the company at the end of 2011, I was working in finance, first designing integrated portfolio management products at CBA and then moving into portfolio management and investing. I’m fascinated by the idea of people working together to solve broader community issues and the role that innovative technology can play in enhancing this collaboration.

I’ve worked in the city most of the professional life, and finding a park had always been a daily nightmare.

There are thousands of parking spaces sitting in office towers throughout the city that go unused each day, yet our streets our congested with people searching for a spot (a reported 30 percent of congestion comes from people searching for parking). I wanted to develop a solution that would open up these spaces to commuters and Divvy became that solution. We actually got our start as a peer-to-peer platform, where residents living in high demand areas could rent out their parking spaces to commuters; however, we soon realised that in order to have a real impact, we needed to move into the commercial property space.

I am passionate about smart cities and creating a more connected society. Divvy is working with government and the private sector to encourage innovation in this space, and to develop and implement real solutions that improve the way we live in Australian cities.

While most welcome services like Uber and AirBnB and of course Divvy, they of course have their detractors, ie. hotels, taxi companies. Who are the opponents of Divvy and what’s their reasoning? How are operators like Wilson taking it?
The opponents of Divvy are, quite simply, those who are stuck in the old ways of doing things. At Divvy, we’re passionate about building smarter, more efficient and more connected cities, and it’s encouraging to see the government and private sector starting to collaborate together in this space. There will always be opposition from those who benefit from keeping things exactly as they are, but if we’re to create better and more liveable cities for a growing population, we need to shake up our approach. The commercial parking market needs competition and innovation if property owners, facility managers and commuters are to benefit.

Some competitors have called for greater regulation of new players on the scene, but this is unfounded.

We integrate our technology platform with existing commercial building owners, managers and parking operators, who provide drivers with the security, insurance and services they require — exactly as they would receive parking in a commercial parking bay.

Ultimately, there hasn’t been enough investment when it comes to smart tech in the parking industry. We’re starting to see that change now. We’re leveraging technology to improve utilisation and create operational efficiencies that offer a better user experience for both facility managers and drivers.

How do you think Divvy affects the facilities manager’s job? I would think there might be some resistance from building managers or facilities managers who might feel it will be harder to hold individuals responsible for possible damages to the buildings?
On the contrary, our solution is a big advantage for facility managers, providing them with opportunities to increase efficiencies and reduce admin and costs, as well as to actually know who is in your building by having data on your parkers. Our objective is to make their life easier through smart technology by automating the process end-to-end – we handle everything from marketing the space to issuing the building access cards. Divvy gives facility managers a holistic view of the parking assets under their management, meaning they can hold individuals accountable for any potential damages to the building.

Improving utilisation of Knight Frank’s vacant parking assets

The challenge
Knight Frank was constantly faced with the underutilisation of parking spaces due to the changing needs for parking from its tenants. Knight Frank sought a simple, sustainable and smart solution that could give them greater visibility, flexibility and control over its assets, and generate revenue without creating additional administration.

The solution
Divvy Parking enabled its smart booking platform to Knight Frank to help its property managers market and manage vacant spaces on a monthly basis. Divvy connected with commuters in need through a targeted digital and print marketing campaign, unlocking the valuable assets.

To automate the process end-to-end for Knight Frank, Divvy Parking issued the building access cards in advance to the confirmed parkers. This reduced property managers’ involvement to the receipt of simple notification once a space had been booked —a significant shift from the previous process and this allowed property managers to focus on other revenue-generating projects.

Divvy Parking will soon be able to offer smartphone enabled access to parking spaces for increased convenience and flexibility.

The car parks using Divvy at both 1 York Street and 181 Miller Street now run at 100 percent utilisation. Every vacant space in the buildings was booked within 8 weeks of the initial listing and current booking retention is 98 percent.

Divvy’s solution has been very successful with commuters, tenants and building managers. The real-time reporting of parking bay utilisation provided Knight Frank with portfolio visibility it had never had before, driving increased revenue while maintaining the flexibility to accommodate any existing or incoming building tenants.

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