Both the classic cassette tape and the CD player conquered the world from the Philips buildings at the Corda Campus in Hasselt. Today, the former Philips site is still a hotbed of innovation, with several high-tech companies calling Corda Campus home. It is also a true innovator, with a smart parking system that features welcome screens, barriers, detection loops, ANPR cameras, badge systems and artificial intelligence to offer visitors an extraordinary parking experience.
Around 5,000 people work at the Corda Campus, not only sharing office space, labs and studios, but also bars, restaurants and even a bank and a barbershop. "Corda refers to the Latin word for heart and the Italian word for rope, and that’s no coincidence," Raf Degens, General Manager at Corda Campus says. "It’s our goal to connect companies and people in a pleasant and friendly setting. And that includes a stress-free parking experience."
Seamless parking management
Corda Campus has 3,300 parking spaces, both on-street and in various car parks, including three underground car parks and a visitor car park. Until recently, managing these parking spaces was a very complex business, and the parking spaces were not always used efficiently. "As a technology campus, Corda is fully focused on the future. On any modern campus, mobility management should work seamlessly," Raf continues. "Overcrowded car parks, annoyed drivers looking for a parking spot and lost parking tickets aren’t part of the picture."
"We wanted to set up an easy-to-use, cost-efficient and user-friendly parking system that our tenants could manage themselves and that would improve the parking experience. The car park facilities also had to be future-proof, to ensure the campus will still be an attractive business hub 20 years from now. At Corda Campus, the future is not only about cars. We are working on a mobility hub with room for personal and shared electric scooters and bicycles, charging stations, etc."
“Our car park has to be future-proof to ensure the Corda Campus will still be an attractive business hub 20 years from now. That’s why we are working on a mobility hub.”
Raf Degens, General Manager at Corda Campus
Smart parking in the cloud
Corda Campus quickly found the right partner to turn their vision into a reality: IT service provider Cegeka, who leases an entire section of the campus and has many years of experience in mobility solutions. Cegeka had developed the Capacity Platform: a powerful, scalable cloud application with a host of smart features. The platform connects and integrates parking hardware with an access system featuring licence plate recognition and reliable technology such as artificial intelligence.
Perfectly integrated and always available
"The Capacity Platform is a technology-independent platform that can be perfectly integrated with third-party tools. This was very important to us," Anja Verstrepen, Facility Manager, says. "There is a lot of hardware and software for parking systems available on the market, but many of them offer no integration options. This makes managing car parks a complex and inefficient process, while cooperation is central on our campus. Our system has to be able to connect seamlessly with other applications, such as the tenant badge system, and in the long run even fleet management solutions or systems for managing electric charging stations. Edge computing was also an important factor, allowing our parking infrastructure to remain operational even if we have network problems or if the platform is disconnected from the cloud."
“The Capacity Platform can be integrated perfectly with third-party tools. This is crucial, because cooperation is central to our campus.”
Anja Verstrepen, Facility Manager at Corda Campus
An extraordinary parking experience for tenants ...
Together with the Corda team, Cegeka mapped out Corda’s requirements during workshops. They described and analysed the customer journeys of each type of car park user. Next, they used this information to configure the Capacity Platform.
Benny Schaeken, Director Smart Cities at Cegeka, explains how the Corda Campus’s system works: "When a car arrives at the underground car park, the licence plate is automatically scanned and checked against the licence plates in the Capacity Platform’s database. If the system identifies the licence plate as a tenant or visitor, the barrier will open, and the driver will be able to find a parking spot easily. Car park occupancy is updated in real time and the outdoor screens display the capacity per tenant accurately. In the near future, this will also generate an automated email notifying the receptionist or specific employee that their visitor has arrived. This way each guest will enjoy a personal greeting as soon as they enter the building, creating a really welcoming experience for the visitor and convenience for the employees."
… and for occasional visitors
"The visitor car park will be managed differently. This is reserved for occasional visitors to the restaurant or bar, or those attending events. The barriers will open automatically, allowing visitors to enter without a ticket and without prior notification," Raf continues. "To prevent tenants from using this car park, we’ve set up the Capacity Platform in such a way that if the system recognises you as a user, the barrier will not open and you will be asked to park in the underground car park. If you are an occasional visitor, the platform will register your entry and then store this data in full compliance with the GDPR regulations. If your car is parked here for more than 4 hours a day on a number of consecutive days, the platform will indicate that you are “not a visitor”, and the barriers will no longer open for you. This ensures that we always have enough space for visitors."
Lower operating costs
The platform offers more than just a pleasant parking experience. It’s also particularly user-friendly for the Corda Campus, the tenants and the front desk staff. "We used to manage the car parks ourselves," Anja explains. "The car park attendant had to man the car park whatever the weather. His job has certainly improved a lot! Many processes have been automated thanks to the new platform: from drafting rental contracts to allocating a parking spot to managing the car park. Our tenants have actually become their own car park managers: office workers and board members alike can grant parking rights to visitors and employees. This saves us a lot of time and money. In addition, we no longer need paper tickets. This means we’ve been able to reduce our operating costs and ecological footprint significantly."
“Many processes have been automated. This saves us a lot of time and money.”
Anja Verstrepen, Facility Manager at Corda Campus
Subletting parking spaces to generate additional income
With the Capacity Platform, business parks such as the Corda Campus can reduce costs and earn some extra money at the same time. "Employees have increasingly been working from home since the coronavirus pandemic started. Using our platform, companies can rent out empty parking spaces. Using historical and real-time data, the system calculates how much of the parking capacity is being used. If 20% of a company’s spaces are empty, they can be sublet them digitally to visitors of other companies or restaurants," Benny explains.
Innovation and close cooperation
The story of Corda Campus and the Capacity Platform has involved a great deal of innovation and collaboration. The platform was created thanks to well-organized consultation and continuous dialogue. "The fact that we were able to complete this innovative project together with one of our tenants is, of course, very convenient," Anja says. "But physical proximity was not the only reason why we decided to join forces. Cegeka is a team of true IT experts who – and this was crucial to us – have extensive expertise and practical experience in mobility solutions, for instance at Q-Park. We have the same vision when it comes to the future of mobility. Cegeka listened to our story and requirements and created a customized solution. For the hardware, we teamed up with other companies in the region: BAM Bormet for the barriers, The Safe Group for the outdoor screens and Syntegro for access control. Cegeka ensures that all these different tools are working together seamlessly."
A more attractive campus
"We launched the first phase of this project a while ago and so far everything is working perfectly. The Capacity Platform has proved a highly reliable end-to-end solution. With the help of AI, our licence plate recognition ratio is 99.7%, which is amazing. And this is just the beginning. The solution will also support us in the development of our mobility hub. By implementing this platform, Corda Campus has become an even more attractive location for businesses or events, aligning us perfectly with our future goals," Raf concludes.
“With this platform Corda Campus has become an even more attractive location for businesses or events.”
Raf Degens, General Manager at Corda Campus
About Corda Campus
Corda Campus, one of the largest business parks in Europe, was established on the former Philips site in Hasselt. It is home to 250 companies, mostly technology firms, from start-ups and scale-ups to longstanding businesses. Around 5,000 people work on the campus.