From the Highway to the Parking Space: DMS Technology Makes “Bigger” Better

City of Minneapolis, MN Full-Color Dynamic Message Sign

To kindle their economies and refresh downtown areas, cities around the world are building and renovating venues to attract people and money from surrounding areas. After overcoming the daunting challenges of funding, planning and constructing new venues, many of these cities are faced with new challenges regarding the augmented crowds.

Recently, we’ve seen many cities implement dynamic message signs (DMS) to guide visiting motorists throughout downtown areas. Generally, these display systems are meant to ease the motorist’s transition from the roadway to the parking facility and vice versa.

Larger Crowds, Leaner Traffic

The addition of Target Field in 2010 created a new challenge for the City of Minneapolis. Their art galleries, theaters, convention center, three major league venues and six Fortune 500 company headquarters – all within two square miles – sometimes hold events on the same day at the same time.

To keep traffic moving smoothly throughout downtown, the City implemented a detailed strategy involving Daktronics DMS technology. This plan involves network of 42 strategically-placed DMS which help visitors efficiently navigate, park and enjoy the downtown area.

The City of Orlando is using this technology to manage traffic around the cutting-edge Amway Center – the new home of the Orlando Magic. By placing these displays on the arterial routes surrounding the Amway Center, the city provides useful wayfinding information and an exceptionally easy drive to and from the facility.

Innovating and Integrating

Even without the introduction of new major venues, cities are taking advantage of this technology to improve their existing offerings for visitors and businesspeople.

For example, Seattle teamed up with several parking facilities in its downtown area to install dynamic message centers which provide directions in addition to space counts and rates. These displays reduce circulation congestion on the streets by giving drivers the most direct route to their parking spaces. Bringing people to the garages also frees up a few of those notoriously-rare parking spaces on the street. In addition, providing options and choices helps motorists feel more comfortable and maybe save a few bucks during their visit.

Not to be outdone technologically, San Francisco followed suit in July by announcing a $25 million project involving an integrated website and variable parking rates based on demand. This project is integrated with new and existing displays which will also use the real-time data to direct motorists to open spaces in city-owned garages.

The Extra Mile is Never Crowded

Collaborating with these cities has given us a clearer understanding of what does and doesn’t work for the system manager and the downtown visitor. Although funding and implementing a new DMS network isn’t exactly a piece of cake, we work hard to simplify the management and maintenance of these systems by enhancing our product designs and introducing new features.

After all, if our cities are capable of investing in and building world-class venues – traffic should be the last thing on visitors’ minds. These project have shown that, by using today’s DMS technology, cities can keep fans – and their wallets – rolling into town.

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