If you live in a large city like Brussels, getting to work in time can be tough enough as it is.
Forget about using your car todays prudent city worker uses public transport. However, until recently, commuters travelling to the outskirts of Brussels to switch to public transport at the citys Park+Ride facilities had had to face a far tougher and even more frustrating challenge. It wasnt so much the extra travel time that gave commuters a headache, but the increasingly crowded Park+Ride lots at key stations of Belgiums national railways (NMBS/SNCB). To a large extent, it turned out, locals were using the Park+Ride facilities for the free parking only, leaving commuters who wanted to transfer to the trains increasingly angry and frustrated. The same problem affected a large number of the other NMBS Park+Rides throughout Belgium.
To deal with the situation, NMBS HOLDING decided to introduce centralised parking access management at all facilities throughout the country. What we wanted for NMBS was a solution that would give us full central control of all car and bicycle parking facilities from our Belgium headquarters, says Gert De Roock of NMBS Holding. We also wanted to outsource system maintenance and data management to keep things easy and save on overhead costs. After thorough evaluations, the solution of market leader SKIDATA emerged as the only one to meet all of the required criteria. SKIDATA also had extensive know-how and a proven track record, including the networked centralisation of over 60 Park+Ride facilities for Dutch national railway operator NS, and 75 car parks across the entire Australian continent for local operator Wilson Parking. SKIDATA was chosen as the general contractor for all organisational and technical aspects of the project.
At the core of the SKIDATA solution is REMCO (short for Remote Monitoring and Control). Its a software-based service that links to the devices of every facility on the network barriers, gate terminals, autopay machines, intercoms, etc. and allows B-Parking to remote control them from their central control room in Brussels, says Willem-Jan Balk, general manager of SKIDATA SA/NV. This makes operating the entire network of facilities not only very effective, but also highly cost efficient. CCTV and intercom lines were also interfaced into the solution so that operators are able to give instant assistance to customers at the individual facilities. All the while, REMCO also keeps a close watch on the operating performance of the individual devices. This allows remotely connected SKIDATA technicians to carry out maintenance tasks, take preventive measures or deploy local service staff before problems can arise.
There are hundreds even thousands of parkers checking in and out at each of our facilities every day, says Francis Duyck, general manager of B-Parking, which operates the facilities on behalf of NMBS. Thats a lot of transactions, and a lot of information to manage to stay in control. To help them manage the huge flow of data, B-Parking use SKIDATAs Data Warehouse service, which provides them with regular reports and statistics to suit their particular needs.
Bringing it all together
In a first stage, SKIDATA will integrate the P+R facilities of 35 NMBS railway stations, including bicycle parking facilities at 17 of them. Future plans call for the smart integration of NMBSs LISA ticketing system, so that cards issued at NMBS ticket windows can be used with SKIDATAs parking gate terminals. We can integrate virtually any third-party data carrier, whether barcoded or contactless, explains Balk. Its one of our technical specialities. As a result, holders of NMBS passes, which are based on contactless Calypso technology, will be able to use their cards for smooth, contactless access to the P+R facilities by late 2010. We chose SKIDATA because we wanted to go straight to the worlds experts in car park management and RFID technology. We can only say that theyve lived up to our expectations, say Gert De Roock and Francis Duyck with a smile.