Since the developments in 2020 with the onset of Covid-19, the ensuing lockdown followed by the slow re-emergence of business, it is of vital importance that parking operators and local authorities provide a safe, touch free environment for their customers when using pay parking services and systems. This applies to both on-street and off-street parking environments.
One of Irelands longest established companies in the parking and tolling business, ParkMagic has been working on a solution to this and has made their on-street pay by app service available and accessible by all local authorities with two week lead time and short contract options to get a service up and running as Ireland gets back to business.
However there is a practical issue which is that there are many consumers and a number of different parking apps already available in Ireland and so the best solution to getting everybody set up is to introduce parking interoperability.
Finally, a solution that allows any customer from anywhere pay for parking in your jurisdiction regardless of their parking App provider and regardless of your supplier. The end result is the customer gets their parking paid and you, the provider get paid – guaranteed!
Since the early noughties when mobile telephony uptake grew legs, the parking industry was quick to spot the potential for using the technology to enhance the parking experience, remove street furniture, remove capital costs, reduce cash handling and deliver a raft of other benefits. Thus, the pay by mobile parking industry began and today, it is fair to say that, far from being a complimentary payment method, mobile parking payment is the mainstream if not the defacto payment method in many jurisdictions.
Now, more than 15 years later, mobile telephones have transformed into ubiquitous and indispensable tool that some would feel are almost welded to the hands of their owners. Further, the trend shows no sign of diminishing. As for mobile parking payment – it too has grown steadily and yes, to use a well-worn phrase, ‘there’s an App for that’. The problem is, of course, ‘there are dozens of Apps for that’ – in dozens of different cities in dozens of different countries
Now, what promised to bring freedom and ease of use for consumers has added to the excessive noise of everyday life. Which App can I use? Do I need to register? Did it work? Why can’t I use my favourite App? Why do I need to give the same data several times over? Is it safe? I just want to park my car! If I can use the same coin in a Donegal Meter as I can in a Wexford Meter but I can’t use the same account, how can that be called progress?
They have a point – and a very good one!
It is fair to say – at the risk of ridicule – that ParkMagic saw this coming! Like any other vendor feels, it would be great to have 100% of the market – if there is only one parking App from one vendor, then the interoperability problem is solved! Stepping back from that daydream, the reality is that the presence of multiple innovative suppliers in a market is a good thing – It drives innovation, promotes efficiency and basically keeps manners on everybody.
Thus, in Limerick in 2018 ParkMagic began the design and development of a system that would allow any parking App provider access to their system to make transactions and also facilitate the reverse. In late 2019 they took the wrappers off parkingHUB.ie and welcomed the first transactions in Limerick City from a third party, EasyTrip – a leading provider of Toll and Parking services nationwide; fittingly the same location that some 16 years earlier ParkMagic made their first parking transaction.
ParkingHUB.ie is open for business and the aim is clear
“ParkingHub.ie is a cloud based Parking Exchange that facilitates members to seamlessly and securely exchange parking transactions between each other.”
To conclude, pay by mobile parking can deliver on all that it promises. When you have the right vendor partner with the right capabilities and focus – you can, and indeed probably do, deliver a top class service for your customers. What will limit continued success is the ability to cooperate with your neighbours, the ability to allow your customers to have a seamless experience not just in your jurisdiction but between jurisdictions. As vendors, it falls to all of us to enable that – as the old adage goes, ‘no man (or woman) is an island’
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