If anyone had told Matthew McDaniel during his college days that he would eventually become involved in parking management, he says “I would have laughed at the thought.” After college, however, his career required him to see parking from many different angles. Eventually, he grew to appreciate the world of parking. As a police officer with the Huntsville Police Department, McDaniel enforced on-street parking. He became involved with IT management and parking operations when he worked at Stephen F. Austin State University, and this role continued when he began working at the Huntsville Memorial Hospital. McDaniel still handles those parking-related responsibilities in his current position as Deputy Chief of Public Safety Services at Sam Houston State University (SHSU).
Magic of Parking
Throughout his career in parking, McDaniel has learned how much work and attention go into parking management. “The ‘magic’ of a successful parking program is the attempt to make it look effortless,” McDaniel says. “Picture a duck swimming across a pond. It glides across the water effortlessly. Underwater, however, its feet are paddling like crazy. This is the perfect analogy of a day in the life of a parking professional.” Parking professionals, he says, realize that a successful parking operation requires “great communication, planning, practice, proper execution, and the willingness to admit that we can always improve.”
Applying Technology to Attain Efficiency
In his own method to improve the efficiency of parking management at SHSU, McDaniel utilizes parking technology to assist his operations. For example, he uses “NuPark’s parking management system to created a consumer mobile application exclusively for SHSU.” This application provides services related to short- and long-term parking purchase, including the ability to view, pay, and appeal parking citations. Users can also adjust parking information based on permit type and modify account options. Offering multiple services within one application eliminates the need for customers to visit multiple apps, websites, or physical locations, though McDaniel and his team are still willing to provide an office visit if the customer prefers a face-to-face encounter.
Throughout his career, McDaniel has learned about the behind-the-scenes effort that makes a parking operation successful. “Before I started working in the parking industry,” McDaniel says, “I did not have a care in the world regarding parking. Now, I conduct a risk and flow assessment in my mind of every parking lot and structure that I enter.” Like the many established peers in the industry, McDaniel has developed an instinct for understanding the complexities of parking.