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SKIDATA has presented the latest trends in parking systems at the Intertraffic.

Under the motto 'Licence to succeed - On our Customer's service' SKIDATA has demonstrated how parking facility operators can use the latest centralisation solutions to effect a proven reduction in operating costs.

The centre is everywhere

skidata.jpgBill Gates once said that centralisation is neither an end in itself nor inevitable. Today, centralisation means adopting a prudent central position, and in doing so making the most of available human and technical resources. SKIDATA™ is doing just that, using the latest communication techologies available today. "This allows us to shape the world into a global village where the systems are there for the people, and not the other way round," muses SKIDATA Parking Division Manager Robert Weiskopf at the Intertraffic trade fair.

“The use of SKIDATA systems in The Parking Spot's private network has allowed us to concentrate important managerial responsibilities like pricing, discounting and cash controls at our corporate offices in Chicago. This allows our on-site personnel to focus on operating priorities like customer service and facilities maintenance. The result is more satisfiedcustomers and a more efficiently managed company,“
Martin H. Nesbitt, President of US-based Pritzker Group.

“We wanted a solution that offered a simple user interface to provide control of remote sites and equipment, enabling us to deal with our customers queries efficiently and effectively. The solution also had to provide details of all system activity for audit and control purposes. Finally the solution had to sit on the NCP virtual private network to keep connectivity costs to a minimum. The control room network solution offered by Skidata enabled us to meet all of these objectives."
Bill McLean, Operations Director NCP Ltd., UK.

One may experience the benefits of useful centralisation as authentically as these SKIDATA™ clients – or one may resort to a view of centralisation as an inevitable end in itself.

Not everything possible is necessarily desirable

Today, data networks bridging large distances are no longer a problem where technology is concerned; but networking means much more than just having different IT systems work together: SKIDATA™ has always had a watchful eye on the changes in economy, society, and technology. After all, not everything that is viable technically is also viable economically. That is because what is economically sensible is not always accepted by the people concerned, and because technology must also be measured against the criteria of its long-term use (i.e., sustainability).

This is an area where both manufacturers and business operators need to convince and win public approval, not just the approval of their banks.

Mind you, this is not just another ambitious futuristic vision – we are already in the process of turning theory into practice: pertinent examples include networked associations of parking operators in cities such as Manchester and London, and a park-and-ride service offered by a major Dutch car park operator. in the United States, networked parking corporations have spread across several states, and an Australian operator of car park chains has announced plans to network – and thus centralise – its business across the entire continent.

Networking in search of a useful 'middle way'

Initially, this development was triggered by the worldwide call for globalisation, with international parking corporations seeking ways of managing their ever-growing businesses as efficiently and professionally as possible. The objectives are clear: 'classic' cost reduction, faster supply of information for shorter response times, and, most importantly, globalisation in an increasingly harsher competitive business environment. The solution: Networking different car parks and facilities for centralised control and operation.

That means finding a useful 'middle way' for bringing together people, locations, and systems: that's how we understand the concept of centralisation, and that's what operators, communities, and businesses are doing, from local multi car park operators to parking corporations spanning entire continents. Data networking is no longer considered a technical miracle: LAN, WAN, and VPN platforms for data transfer have become commonplace, just as data connections via phone line, GSM, ADSL, or DSL. And technical innovations are becoming faster and easier to use every day.

The real juice is in the applications

As dry and uninteresting as they may appear, the real juice is to be found in the software applications. Consider the SKIDATA™ Remote Workstation: it's a PC-based SKIDATA™ control unit that was specifically designed for the Parking System and optimised for round-the-clock operation. Unlike a regular workstation, this unit may be placed and operated geographically independent of the car park that it controls. The Remote Workstation is connected to the parking system by way of a data communication line. This solution is intended, for example, for operators who want constant access to current facility status details, whether from their office or from home.

Another example is the SKIDATA™ Remote Event Messaging service: System events such as errors, warnings, and notifications are automatically relayed over the network to a pre-specified Remote Workstation (PC), PDA, or mobile telephone. That's the first stage of true centralisation, as it eliminates the need to be inside a parking facility to run it. As an on-call service solution it is simple and cost-effective, as relevant information can be piped through to mobile devices such as cellphones, PDAs, or notebook computers. As a result, the service technician stays in full control of the system, whether at the office or at a restaurant while enjoying a lovely anniversary dinner with his wife.

Using his mobile control centre, a simple click of the mouse is all it takes to solve the problem. The Mobile Control Centre provides controls for the opening of gate barriers and many other functions, whereas the Main Administration Unit allows for central management of multiple facilities: The new Main Control Centre by SKIDATA™ allows for several car parks to be controlled and monitored centrally with the same precision and security as a regular Control Centre. At the same time, it provides greater operational economy, as it runs independent of existing hardware and software. With digital 'eagle vision' it can monitor all parking facilities of an entire city, for example.
Considering that centralisation 'SKIDATA™ style' means easy installation and operation from any offic PC running Windows 2000 or XP; considering also that it means reliable permanent or on-demand data connections with each parking facility on the network; and considering features such as multi-language user guidance and easy integration into existing parking management systems (including lifts, building controls, etc.), it is clear that – all things considered – this is a system that's easy to use, stable, and reliable – and thanks to its automated processes, it's efficient to boot. "In this case, it seems we've been successful in finding that useful 'middle ground' for users, regions, and technology," adds Weiskopf.

What about smaller providers?

One final thought: With all centralisation and globalisation efforts one must never lose sight of the particular needs of the countless parking providers that operate on a much smaller scale. What they want and vitally need are easily learnable systems at an affordable, 'value-for-money' price; systems that can be installed and operated based on a 'building blocks' concept.

A year ago SKIDATA™ introduced Parking System SPT 400 to meet these particular demands. The success of the system has since exceeded all expectations, as SPT 400 is already in use all over the world.

SKIDATA AG – Member of the Kudelski Group

SKIDATA AG is international market leader in access and ticketing systems for ski, parking and event applications. SKIDATA has excellent references in all of these segments: Customers in the parking segment include the city airports of Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Amsterdam, and London Heathrow. Skiwelt Amadé, the ski regions of Zermatt and Zillertal, and the Jungfraubahnen in Switzerland are also highly satisfied users of SKIDATA™ ski system solutions, and many sports stadiums of prestigious international football clubs such as FC Porto, Benfica Lissabon, or FC Kaiserslautern have opted for SKIDATA event management systems. The list of reference customers in the event segment also includes theme park operator Legoland. Currently over 3,500 SKIDATA™ applications are being operated successfully in over 30 countries worldwide.

SKIDATA is a member of the Kudelski Group (www.nagra.com), a world leader in digital security technology. Kudelski SA is traded on the Swiss Stock Exchange (SWX “KUD”) and listed on the SMI (Swiss Market Index). It is also included in the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) Index.

For more information please visit www.skidata.com
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