Digital communications have become a normal part of day-to-day life particularly for working people, like me, who spend a large percentage of their working day at a desk. Technology has undoubtedly mitigated the worst effects of Covid 19 from a corporate communications perspective, and we’ve all learnt a lot about how to make better use of it, although I would still never claim to be particularly tech-savvy.
Nevertheless, I chaired the latest Zatpark webinar in association with Landor LINKS – Permission granted: Parking permit schemes – to discuss the transition from paper permits to a more of a digital ‘passport’ system. The parking sector has embraced technology in a number of ways over recent years and permit schemes have to keep up with that pace of change despite the challenges.
Our webinar panel of experts had many answers to the question of how the sector should respond to changing consumer needs. They were:
- Tina Glover, Principal Engineer, Project Centre
- Neil Herron, Founder and Chief Executive, Grid Smarter Cities
- James Hampton, Delivery and Solutions Specialist, Zatpark
Tina and I have known each other for a very long time and she brought her considerable experience of working within a local authority, Bury Council, where she worked for over 20 years, to the panel. As well as outlining the benefits of paper permits in certain very limited situations, she shared with us the many reasons why digital permits are a good idea, including the lower operational costs for local authorities and the lack of flexibility a paper permit allows drivers. Updating car or address details can take drivers a long time and the online process is much simpler. Both her presentation and her prop handling skills were much-admired by our audience!
Neil Herron highlighted the complexities of permitted parking, particularly in urban centres, and particularly for freight and delivery drivers. Cycle lanes, for example, have exacerbated the issue through decreased parking space. Neil reassured us that technology is playing its part in addressing the problem including via smart signs which can allow for booking online and sharing additional, dynamic information which can be updated in real-time depending on what’s happening in the local area. It was fascinating to hear more about some of the exciting innovation going on in future city planning.
The final contributor was Zatpark’s own James Hampton. James works as Delivery and Solutions Specialist and is well-versed in the multiple issues that local authorities and private operators face when they’re implementing a permit system. He outlined how SaaS (software as a service) is playing its role and providing the flexibility for frequent updates and the addition of new features. The transition that many systems are going through, from a traditional permitting system to a new digitised system, can be made much smoother using existing technology.
The webinar concluded with a Q&A session which proved quite lively due to the impressive attendance rate and the broad range of questions sent in. Personally, I concluded that as a sector we have done incredibly well to embrace technology in permit systems but we can, and should, still do better for the sake of all of us in the industry and, more importantly, for the sake of today’s drivers and those of the future.