Comment: Parking - the unlikely trailblazer for smart mobility

06/11/2019

From the effective management of low emission zones, free flow tolling and congestion charging, to advanced data analytics and connectivity, the parking sector is not standing still when it comes to intelligent transport and smart mobility solutions, as Imperial’s managing director Ashley Bijster (pictured below) explains.

In one form or another, every local authority is grappling with the opportunities and challenges presented by ongoing developments in digital technologies. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in traffic management. The number of private cars on Britain’s roads has more than doubled over the past 40 years, compromising urban mobility, safety and accessibility not to mention the pressure on the budgets of highways departments.

In tackling these issues, parking has led the way in the delivery of new digital capabilities, self-serve functionality and connectivity and perhaps it is no coincidence that it is also one of the most sensitive, procedurally complex and highly regulated service areas. 

The general public - and regulators - will not hesitate to pounce on any service shortfall or error.

Parking solutions not problems 

In many instances, the adoption of end-to-end service solutions feature highly advanced self-serve platforms and a level of connectivity that fulfils the most challenging smart city service targets and overcomes even complex processing progression paths.

The benefits of such technology to motorists are considerable, not just in terms of convenience and immediacy, but also with improved flexibility and responsiveness.

Elsewhere, authorities like Watford Borough Council are continuing to capitalise on digital improvements and, here, the council’s parking services team is using new virtual solutions and highly responsive and intuitive self-serve platforms.

For example, the new arrangements have greatly simplified the registration, renewal and payment processes for parking permits in the authority’s seventeen Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). They have also minimised back office administration and transformed the effectiveness of on-street enforcement, delivering much improved compliance levels to ensure residents reap greater benefits of CPZ restrictions.

'As an authority that has signed up for the Government’s Local Digital Declaration, the council’s vision is to be a customer-focused, digitally-enabled and commercially-minded service provider that is well-placed to take full advantage of innovative new technologies,' says Watford’s parking services manager, Justin Bloomfield.

'Establishing a direct and dynamic relationship with a specialist service provider is helping us fulfil such service transformation objectives and has set a new benchmark for the authority in digital service delivery. But it’s not a one-off exercise and a close working partnership will help to ensure we take full advantage of technological advances and continue to maximise ICT integration, connectivity and compatibility,' he added. 

'This approach is also providing an effective framework for us to feed off specialist expertise to explore new opportunities and develop our own ideas for service improvement.'

The wider network

Many of the technologies and service advances initially developed to meet the challenging legal, procedural and customer service requirements of a parking services team have evolved – and continue to evolve – to deliver proven and highly versatile solutions in many other areas of traffic management.

As a result, the effective and efficient management of clean air zones and low emission zones or the introduction of congestion charges and free flow tolling programmes do not need to be leaps of faith.

Proven and highly versatile permit management systems provide fully integrated and end-to-end service solutions for local authorities and traffic management teams.

Capable of providing highly sophisticated and responsive authorisations based on a multitude of increasingly complex qualifying criteria, today’s permit management solutions provide dynamic pricing options, effective toll/permit enforcement as well as reliable and responsive payment processing.

In a similar way, the processing software for parking enforcement successfully accommodates a multitude of variables and contravention codes. The practicalities of delivering the relatively simple vehicle classification required for free flow tolling as well as low emission and clean air zones is, therefore, very straightforward.

Equally, the focus on customer satisfaction and first contact resolution in parking has been achieved despite a bewildering array of legislation and has led to very high and sustained customer satisfaction scores.

It also gives motorists the assurance of reliable self-serve registration and payment platforms that are available 24/7 to provide maximum convenience for the user.

The cashless, electric future?

Of course, in any commentary on technology, we can’t ignore the prevalence and popularity of smart phones and the growing trend for cashless transactions.

Even here, the parking sector has for many years led the way in mobile apps and cashless payment solutions. There are now apps to help motorists pre-book, pay and locate convenient parking places to make the life of motorists easier and to minimise their impact on urban congestion and air quality issues.

Take the example of the growth in electric vehicles and the need to optimise accessibility and occupancy for the ever-increasing number of EV charging points. The risk of difficulties is very real as there could be little scope to ensure fairness and accessibility to prevent abuse of the facilities, suggesting a need for integrated platforms similar to parking solutions. 

In a similar way, the service proficiencies and real-time data management capabilities of monitoring technologies such as CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems have helped to transform both user convenience and compliance in the parking sector.

There is no doubt that the level of automation and service benefits presented by ANPR will see a continuing increase of its deployment across all areas of urban transport management.

The automated vehicle identification process also provides invaluable insight and data to show what types of vehicles are entering the designated areas of a city. So too do parking guidance systems and other Mobility as a Service solutions that advise motorists of available parking spaces and the best alternative route or transport option.

Aside from helping a local authority to determine the most appropriate charging structure for those vehicles having the greatest impact on air quality in the city, such real-time and crowdsourced data also allows an authority to monitor traffic trends and behaviours.

Automatically capturing and analysing such data provides critical insight to ensure more informed decision-making and to deliver intelligent transport solutions that are constantly finely-tuned to reflect evolving priorities and target outcomes.

So, far from being a peripheral service area, the parking sector should be seen as something of an unsung hero that’s paving the way for more effective and ambitious digital transport management programmes.

Highways jobs

Road worker/Ground worker

City of York Council
£10.30 per hour
Have you successfully worked as part of a team? York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

HGV Relief Driver

North West Leicestershire District Council
Salary Band D, £21,589- £24,799 per year (pro rata to period of contract)
We are looking to recruit temporary HGV Relief Drivers with occasional loading duties to join NWLDC’s busy Waste Services Team. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recruiter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Waste Services Worker (Loader)

North West Leicestershire District Council
Band B, £18,795 - £19,171 per year (pro rata to the length of contract)
We are looking for Waste Operations Loaders to join our Waste Services Team to undertake waste collection and other related duties. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recruiter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Chargehand/Ganger

City of York Council
£11.09 per hour
Do you have experience of excavation, reinstatement and footway maintenance schemes? York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Sustainability & Resilience Manager (maternity cover)

Essex County Council
£51510.0 - £58752 per annum
This fixed-term contract will begin in August 2020 and is expected to last until October 2021 Interviews scheduled to be held Wednesday 10th June 2020 England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Civil Service Deputy Director Roles

GOV.UK
£70,000 - £117,800 & excellent rewards
We’re looking for significant experience of engaging at C-Suite and Board levels, excellent partnership-building and... England
Recruiter: GOV.UK

Engineer (Highways Scheme Design)

Medway Council
£31,888 - £37,646 per annum
The post-holder will be required to have highway engineering expertise in order to contribute to efficient and effective provision of... Medway City Estate, Rochester
Recruiter: Medway Council

Principal Flood Risk Officer

Lancashire County Council
£42,683-£46,566
We have an exciting opportunity for a Principal Floor Risk Officer Lancashire
Recruiter: Lancashire County Council

Resources and Waste Commercial and Contracts Manager

Northumberland County Council
£47,107 - £50,394
We are looking for a strategic, innovative and performance-focused leader to join us as Resources and Waste; Commercial and Contracts Manager. County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

SEN Travel Assessment Co-ordination Officer

London Borough of Bexley
£35,529 - £41,796
We are currently seeking an experienced officer administrator who will enjoy working as team and under their own initiative, with duties including... Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Bexley

Principal Planning Liaison Officer X3

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Principal Estate Roads Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Principal Travel Plan Officer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Assistant Estate Roads Engineer x2

Somerset County Council
£25,295 to £28,785 per annum
We have 2 exciting opportunities for enthusiastic and committed individuals to join our Highways Development Management Team Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Design Services Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£50,430 - £55,503
We are a team of mixed experience and skills, proud to serve the people of Lincolnshire and have fun whilst doing so! Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Transport Planning Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
£29,636 to £32,029
We are looking for a Transport Planning Officer to join our Highways and Transportation service. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Transforming Cities Fund - Project Delivery Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
£48,000 to £55,840
We are looking to appoint to the pivotal position of TCF Project Delivery Manager on a 3 year fixed-term contract, to... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Solicitor - Planning & Transportation Team

Birmingham City Council
£34,788 - £42,683
This is an opportunity to join a team of specialist lawyers dedicated to the Council achieving... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Application Support Analyst

Redbridge London Borough Council
£34,794.00 - £36,711.00
Looking for an experienced Application Support Analyst to join our IT & Digital Services team.  Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer (Drainage)

Medway Council
£31,888 - £37,646 per annum
The post holder will be expected to work closely with our term maintenance contractor to successfully complete schemes. Medway City Estate, Rochester
Recruiter: Medway Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Crossing the inflection point

COVID-19 recovery plans revealed

Modelling a changing world

The great reallocation

View the latest issue

Latest Video