In late 2020, Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, Birmingham, Ala., was faced with a decision to replace its aging parking access system. 

As part of a health system with 8,000 parking spaces spread across several facilities, the medical center estimated that to replace its parking system with a traditional but updated and PCI-compliant version to accept credit card payments would have cost it $1.5 million. 

However, instead of choosing a traditional system where users take a ticket when entering the gate and use a touch-pay station to exit, Brookwood decided to implement a contactless parking system with no upfront capital costs. 

The technology developed by Spaces USA, New York City, allows patients, visitors and staff to access parking facilities without reaching outside their car or touching any equipment. Instead, when users drive to a Brookwood facility, all they need is a mobile phone. 

Spaces USA switched over a special lane using the existing gate at no cost to the facility. Upon reaching a parking gate, users dial a number and the gate will lift. They will then receive a text to fill out their credit card or parking validation information. When they leave the facility, they dial the number again and the gate will lift to allow them to exit. 

The system charges visitor users a $1 fee per visit. Employees are charged $1 per month to use the system. 

Jerry Skillet, executive chairman and co-founder of Spaces USA, says the technology is more accessible to patients, staff and visitors of varying physical abilities. It also eliminates touchpoints during a time when the public has been wary of touching shared surfaces because of COVID-19.

“When we started this company, we were not in a COVID-19 situation, but it aligns very well with the time we are in,” Skillet says. “This is completely contactless and done entirely in the vehicle itself. You don’t have to roll down the window or touch anything. We wanted to find something that is easier for everyone to use.”