Since ZatPark introduced the first mobile parking enforcement application in 2010, the use of handheld devices by operatives has grown exponentially. This article looks at the place that mobile applications have in the current enforcement environment and considers where mobile enforcement will move over the next few years.
Mobile technologies have many advantages over traditional enforcement methods. But surprisingly, there are still many organisations that are still using traditional parking notices attached to car windscreens.
One factor, which is often under-reported, is how much mobile technology improves the safety of parking enforcement operatives. It is fair to say that, for most motorists, a ticket placed on their car windscreen would be seen as a hostile act. This can result in a wide range of responses including verbal abuse and in extreme cases, go as far as a physical attack on the operative.
Mobile applications, like ZatMobile, reduce the confrontational aspect of parking enforcement. Using a mobile device, the operative can register the contravention at a distance, minimising the likelihood of an altercation with the motorist.
The parking ticket can be issued remotely by post, and evidence of the contravention can be gathered without the need to approach this vehicle at all in many cases. This is because the data for the contravention can be wirelessly submitted from ZatMobile to the back office administration systems.
Secondly, the system will automatically complete a vehicle make/model/colour check. The operative can check this to ensure that he or she is ticketing the correct vehicle. Once they have confirmed vehicle details, all this information plus other data such as where and when the contravention took place are recorded on the system.
Gathering accurate data means reducing the risk of issuing notices for the wrong vehicles. It also means that where the motorist challenges the notice, your appeals team will have all the information needed to provide a watertight defence.
ZatMobile has added MNPR (Manual Number Plate Recognition), which makes the process for recording contraventions quicker and more accurate. It can also automatically link the car park operators own back-office systems for instant confirmation of whether a payment has been made or permit granted.
Finally, ZatMobile significantly reduces the amount of administration required for each contravention. This work includes the need for operatives to return to the office with details of tickets they have issued and the work of back-office staff to add all the required data to the system and initiate the next steps in the process.
Mobile Enforcement Future
There is little doubt that traditional methods of enforcement continue to be displaced in favour of technology-based solutions. The power of this technology will be attractive to private and public sector parking operations. It will continue to help parking companies to bear down on costs. This may become more urgent if the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill 2019 receives royal assent. This Bill may seek to restrict the level of PCN charges that can be levied to those applicable by local authorities.
Furthermore, the public sector has highly complex parking management requirements, which means it has been more difficult to automate their processes. However, a mobile app, which is connected to advanced parking software gives Local Authorities the opportunity to take advantage of more cost-effective and efficient processes.
As it is unlikely that council budgets will increase significantly in coming years, it will make sense that they grasp the opportunities afforded by mobile technologies to reduce the cost of on-street parking management activities and back-office administration.