The parking industry has always been conservative, and the traditional Pay & Display system continues to dominate the world of on-street parking. It has been a slow process, but things are changing and the market is readying itself for digital parking.
Most people nowadays are used to shopping on the internet or their smartphones, and trust in digital payment is growing by the day. End users of parking systems are also demanding more functionality, such as check-in/check-out, top-up, fast and convenient payment, etc.
Solutions such as mobile phone payment, digital permits and vehicle registration number input at parking terminals have been available for several years – and some, such as the Cale solutions implemented in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Calgary, Canada have been very successful. But to gain real benefit from digital parking, all parts of the operation must be made digital – and the key for all-digital parking is the numberplate.
The Parking Management Integrator (PMI) is the brain in Cale’s digital parking solution – the hub to which all suppliers for the operation are connected. The PMI can access all payments from all providers, and also provides a good overview of how well the system is performing. It is possible to see how, where and how often enforcement is performed, and all payment transactions are stored in the same database and can be viewed and analysed in the same tool. Tariffs can be controlled in the same system and distributed to all payment channels simultaneously.
The ideal parking solution is one that is, like Cale’s, completely digital. Once a session is initiated, the parking terminals have the vehicle registration number input and send that information to the PMI in real time. Mobile phone payments are connected in the same way and valid permits are also saved in the PMI. This provides the flexibility to be able to use a phone to top-up a parking session started at a terminal or vice versa. Or, in a real-time payment system, to start the parking session at a terminal and terminate it on a phone.
An integrated solution provides the ability to apply for a new permit, extend an existing one or even change the vehicle registration number for a permit via a terminal, a phone or the web. There is no longer any need for a receipt to be printed by the terminal, as all the information is available in the cloud, and the receipt can be retrieved online, or sent via email or SMS. This also means that the person parking no longer needs to go back to their vehicle to display the ticket after paying. Not only is this convenient, but it also prevents potential thieves from knowing what time the driver is due to return.
The efficiency of a digital parking operation becomes most apparent when looking at enforcement using automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) technology via handheld units or camera-equipped vehicles that are connected to the PMI, so that all permits and current payments can be viewed. Using a system such as Cale Enforcement can potentially improve enforcement efficiency by several hundred percent.
So now, with all payments and permits being online and integrated, the parking enforcement officer (PEO) can simply point a handheld device at a numberplate and scan it. The device immediately queries the PMI to find out whether a vehicle is validly parked, and all payment/permit providers are included in the response. Along with payment information, other details about the vehicle (e.g. make, model, colour, etc) are also sent, so that the PEO is able to verify the information pertains to the correct vehicle. Information regarding stolen vehicles or vehicles wanted for other reasons can also be included in the response from the PMI.
This enables the PEO to report the presence of a stolen vehicle to the police, rather than issuing a parking fine for it. Efficient enforcement combined with a full range of digital payment options increases the willingness and ability of drivers to pay, meaning that the revenue from both payments and fines will increase substantially.
Benefits for the operator
Cale provides a complete and integrated parking operation system, the key benefit of which is the one point of information. There is no longer a need to have multiple systems to check revenue streams, current payments or which terminals need to be attended to. From a commercial perspective, the operator uses this one system to obtain an overview of all payment transactions and can clearly see which method of payment is most popular in a certain area. They can then use this information to organise their operations more effectively. The operator can analyse the data, perform rate management and increase/decrease the size of the zone for residential parking permits, etc to achieve a better occupancy rate of the parking spaces.
A perfect overview of parking space utilisation and payment compliance is obtained. The PEOs can be sent to those areas where the level of payment is low, based on current payments from all payment channels. The operator will see payment compliance increase when an area is enforced efficiently, be able to make well-informed decisions as to how and where to enforce, or add terminals to increase availability for customers, resulting in increased revenue.
With a complete digital solution, the operator can expand the paid parking area easily. Simply add a new zone and ‘attach’ it to the mobile phone app, or add some new permits in the web-based solution to be up and running.
Research shows that up to 30% of the traffic in some town and city centres is made up of motorists looking for somewhere to park. With a digital and fully integrated system, the operator can use dynamic tariffs to control traffic flow. The tariffs can be set once and distributed to all payment channels simultaneously. Parking has never been so easy to control as it is today, as we embrace the digital age.
The above article is reproduced with kind permission from Intertraffic World magazine.
Cale is a Swedish company founded in 1955 and specializing in products for parking. Cale has become one of the leading suppliers of advanced andflexible pay & display machines in the world. This is the result of our dynamic product development, additional services and worldwide network of resellers. It all started with mechanical parking meters and has continued to the highly advanced tickets issuing machines that they produce today. With the experience they have gained over the years, they are today in a position where their products have been installed in about 35 countries around the world. This presence in many different markets, all with varying requirements, gives them broad experience that they use in the development of all new products.