Created in 2011, BePark allows users to temporarily rent a parking space in one of the car parks of its network, and let car park owners register theirs on an online platform. Pooling, digitizing, transitioning to a use economy… this week, Julien Vandeleene, founder of BePark, presents the company’s vision for tomorrow’s urban mobility.
Green Soluce: Can you present BePark and its activities?
Julien Vandeleene: BePark is a digital parking operator that aims to create a better mobility experience for this generation… and the next one! BePark’s vision is to change the mobility landscape by leveraging its extensive network of car parks and making them available to all types of mobility stakeholders, thus creating value for users, owners and the community.
Green Soluce: What was the starting point for creating this activity?
Julien Vandeleene: At the end of the 2000s, when BePark was born, many issues related to mobility began to emerge. Demographic growth, increase in the vehicle fleet and public space reorganization resulted in public traffic space becoming increasingly busy, so solutions had to be found to compensate.
Green Soluce: How has the parking issue become a network of land opportunities?
Julien Vandeleene: Parking has always been a real estate reality, but it is becoming more and more of a real estate opportunity. Today, due to space scarcity, landowners have to optimize all the space they own: installing photovoltaic panels on roofs, optimizing the distribution of office space on floors, and reflecting on the use of cellars and parking lots. This is exactly what BePark wants to bring for parking lots.
For this reason, we strongly believe in the idea of network. We want to carry the same reflection with our car parks as with the energy smart grid. Let’s take an example: a building A, a building B and a building C have different needs in terms of parking capacity at different times, depending on the days of telework for example. In the long term, our ambition is to create a common virtual car park, so that building A can compensate its needs with building B or C; as a smart grid would balance production and energy consumption on the scale of several buildings.
Green Soluce: How can car parks fit into a policy of environmental and social transition in cities?
Julien Vandeleene: The car park will allow for rethinking the allocation of resources. There are many of them:
– Square metres on the ground that will accommodate a whole series of mobility elements or people: cars or micro-mobility (two-wheelers, bicycles, scooters, etc.).
– Second element: buildings produce more and more energy and are sometimes overproducing. Batteries will be available in car parks to store this energy and dispatch it into the network through charging stations for electric cars. The car park will be the distribution node for this energy.
– Third point: as we are in the city, these square metres could be useful for other production functions, such as urban agriculture.
Green Soluce: How should real estate developers integrate these issues for large urban projects?
Julien Vandeleene: First of all, developing means future, which means that you have to be able to project yourself. When designing a new project, it is necessary to plan three to five years ahead and therefore help developers understand how it will work.
Secondly, you have to rationalize as much as possible, not to build too much or too little. By pooling functions, some parking spaces will be occupied 100% of the time and will therefore provide a better return to the investor; in addition, the occupants will have a space according to their needs. To do this, it is necessary to carry out pooling calculations from the design stage, and above all, to think about the legal and commercial implementation.
Finally, developers must anticipate daily operations: how will these people have access to the parking lot? to whom and how will they pay? to whom will we have to pay out this money? etc.
Green Soluce: What basic trends for tomorrow do you note on the issue of urban mobility?
Julien Vandeleene: The main underlying trend is the transition from ownership to use. We share cars, we share bicycles, we share our resources because the means of mobility must come out of the car parks as much as possible and not remain motionless most of the time. And I think it will go even further with the advent of autonomous vehicles, as its amortization will require optimized use.
The second underlying trend is the emergence and development of ecosystems. Today there are many fragmented actors. Integrating of all these solutions into mass tools is necessary to allow a unique identification that allows access to all these mobility solutions (“pay and access”). This notion of ecosystem is finally linked to the third major underlying trend, which is multimodality.
Interview by Camille Raynaud for Urban Chronicles™.
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