Digital technology has changed how we get places and do everyday tasks, including paying for parking. In today’s world, cities face the constant battle of managing precious curb space with increased complexity as new modes of transportation, like ride-sharing and scooters as well as delivery and fleet vehicles, are added to the mix. With the rapidly changing and competitive nature of this modern curb space, cities must reimagine their traditional parking operation, the technology that supports it and what is needed to accomplish both short- and long-term goals.
After evaluating 200+ RFPs for cities both large and small over the past 18 months, transportation software company Passport identified three main criteria to consider when procuring for a modern parking solution: centralized management, customer choice, and future-proofing for new technology and innovation.
Centralized Management: Why have multiple systems when you only need one?
Currently, most cities utilize separate providers throughout their entire parking operation. In other words, they have a parking solution, an enforcement solution, a payment processor, etc., each requiring unique integrations and oversight. This not only creates a reporting headache, but also a siloed operation, unnecessary expenses and multiple procurements. Managing multiple vendors, contracts and backend systems often leads to the question, “How do I unify my parking operation and make it easier to manage?”
“Cities often tell us their number one criterion when evaluating potential partners is finding one partner who can meet most of their needs so they are not managing multiple solutions,” said Kelsey Owens, director of sales at Passport. The modern parking operation is so much more than just parking, and should really be viewed as a mobility operation. It’s clear that the systems most cities have can’t meet the full spectrum of their needs and goals. The solution to this problem is an end-to-end digital operating system designed to unify parking management and enhance the customer parking experience.
With a unified system, cities can manage all aspects of their mobility operation, including parking, enforcement, permits, payments and even micro-mobility using one vendor instead of multiple. This allows city officials to manage zones, rates and restrictions, access parking rights from multiple sources (meters, parking apps, other apps, pay stations, etc.) to efficiently enforce and view data-driven reports in one back-office. This unified infrastructure ultimately enables more convenient payment options for people parking, maximizes parking revenue and decreases everyday operational complexities.
Customer Choice: It’s not only wanted - it’s expected.
As technology advances and we become a more digitally connected society, people expect cities to keep up with the pace of innovation. One parking app no longer speaks to everyone. People want convenience and choices when it comes to paying for parking, and while cities strive to provide this, they also have to efficiently manage and enforce the parking sessions.
An open ecosystem approach to parking through an end-to-end operating system makes it possible for cities to offer a wide range of parking payment options to motorists through everyday apps. It also provides cities with the ability to manage them all in one system. By using an operating system with multiple third-party applications enabled, it may not be necessary to conduct additional vendor procurements if various payment options are already made available through an operating system. “An open ecosystem means that multiple parking vendors and their affiliated applications for payments, data storage and back-end management are all housed and managed in one system and everyone involved has a seamless experience,” said Luke Segars, Passport’s director of product management.
For example, the City of Austin, TX, with the help of Passport, launched an integration with Google enabling drivers to pay for parking directly in the Google Maps application in addition to the city's existing parking app, Park ATX. This new way to pay, powered by an end-to-end operating system, promotes convenience and choice for the end user without changing the city’s existing parking environment - including zone rates and street signs. Passport processes the payment in Google Maps, maintaining seamless reporting and enforcement integrations for cities.
While the open ecosystem model is new for the United States, it has been successful in the Netherlands for years. “By driving the digitalization of parking payments, we have been able to generate the data needed to solve the riddle of parking and make the supply side more transparent,” said John van Dijk, co-founder of the Dutch Parking Register and advisor to Passport, “the ease of use of any parking app increases the willingness of a user to pay, which leads to higher revenue.” With 22 ways to pay for parking, an open ecosystem has helped the Netherlands increase revenue and reach almost 100% parking compliance. By offering users more ways to pay for parking, an open ecosystem model is not only helping increase revenue and parking compliance, but helping create more livable, equitable communities through embedded parking payments in everyday apps.
Future Adaptability: Why flexible, scalable technology is crucial.
A modernized mobility and parking solution should be just that: modern. Procuring for multiple, siloed systems that don’t fully address a city’s current needs - let alone future needs - should be left in the past. Congestion is caused by vehicles stopped or parked at the curb, so cities should strive to create a free-flowing environment to promote movement and increase parking compliance. This can be done with a unified, end-to-end curb, sidewalk and parking management solution that can solve today’s challenges and set a strong foundation for the future.
Parking management has evolved beyond static parking spaces. Anything that utilizes curb space (cars, scooters, commercial vehicles, ride sharing, etc.) can now be managed and made to adhere to the primary rules of parking. This means paying for time spent at the curb, and thus being liable to be enforced in the same way as standard parking. By choosing a unified, scalable solution cities gain the ability to easily monetize, regulate and enforce the entire curb space and the various modes of transportation that occupy it, all within one powerful backend system.
Now is the time to take action
One thing is certain - technology is rapidly changing. The pressure is on for cities to ensure they are keeping up with the pace of change and are providing an infrastructure that allows citizens to move about as freely and seamlessly as possible. Armed with updated RFP criteria, cities can procure for a modern mobility solution that streamlines management of the entire parking operation, enables a better customer experience, and ensures the flexibility necessary to adapt in the future.