When the old meets the new, who will thrive?

This article was originally published on Parking Today

It was more than 70 years ago that the first parking tickets were issued for expired meters and parking violations. Formal enforcement of parking laws changed the game for parking. Parking enforcement officers walked around, observed expired meters or other parking violations, pulled out their notepads and wrote a ticket. At the end of each day, the copies of those tickets would be taken back to the station, and manually handled through each municipality’s collection and adjudication processes.

Fast forward to 2018 and the process does not look much different for many cities.

However, technological advancements have made new things possible that were not available before. One of the biggest advancements has been cloud technology, that has helped drive efficiencies and lower costs.

By using cloud-based services, government decision makers have been able to shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model, allowing them more flexibility in how they leverage technology to help them solve some of their biggest problems. Some of the largest and most innovative cities across the world are using the cloud to improve mobility and deliver services to their citizens in a better way.

Real-time cloud-based enforcement systems help them enforce more accurately, increase collections from parking tickets and make the citation process easier on themselves and the violators.

But even though it may seem like a no-brainer to upgrade to a system that would save money and make citation management easier, many municipalities still hesitate to make the switch. And while staying with an older system may seem like a safe option, it can be a riskier decision.

With new technologies introduced such as Uber and Lyft, as well as bike-sharing services, cities are faced with increased complexity in managing the curb. This means that municipal parking operators will have to establish new systems that will be able to evolve as fast as their transportation ecosystem.

When considering what enforcement systems to put in place, parking operators are faced with a lot of choices and buzzwords that may be hard to decipher. But it does not have to be that difficult. Here are some of the top things to consider when researching cloud-based enforcement systems to help you better manage your parking operation:

Traditional vs. Real-Time Management
A citation management system has to keep up with what’s happening on the streets in real-time. A cloud-based platform allows for data-driven reporting and analytics to be immediately available to enforcement officers and administrators alike.

By leveraging this technology, enforcement officers are able to use lightweight and connected mobile devices, equipped with an accessible mobile app, to improve enforcement practices. Having access to a mobile enforcement system means if a device breaks, it can easily be replaced with an equivalent device within hours instead of days at a fraction of the price than a proprietary handheld command.

In a world of immediacy, a cloud-based platform provides a violator instant availability to his or her parking ticket, increasing compliance. It also provides the city information as to whether a violator has paid or if next steps are required for multiple violations on a vehicle such as booting or towing.

As cities’ parking and transportation operations become more complex, an equally robust and real-time enforcement system is required to keep up – what actions are required for this Uber idling in a bus zone? Should the system send delinquent payment letters to each individual fleet vehicle, or a single bill at the end of the month to the fleet management company?

When evaluating enforcement systems, focusing on the providers’ experience and service offerings, rather than just evaluating products, will be more important than focusing on the number of years a provider has been in business.

The Ol’ Brush Off vs. Client First Service
How many times have you signed up with a provider just to get the brush off once you’ve signed on the dotted line and forked over your upfront fees?

A successful cloud-based enforcement system should include hands-on involvement during the implementation process, including a provider who does the heavy-lifting with integrations and understands your operations.

Your provider should also ensure that you have access to the right reporting and data, tailored to your operational needs, so you won’t experience major pain points or have to significantly alter your-day to-day work to match the software’s limitations.

Disparate systems vs. a fully integrated platform
Running a parking operation has many moving pieces — from offering the right payment solutions to choosing the right permit system and enforcement solution. It can become a big technology puzzle whose pieces may not easily fit together if you have different providers for each system. Having the ability to integrate, but also offer multiple products or even a full suite of services on the same platform, is an important quality you should consider in a vendor.

When choosing your citation management provider, think about how they could help you with other aspects of your operation. Running on a single platform means that you can gain efficiencies in your operation by combining all your data into one place.

For example, what insights can be gained by examining permit usage patterns combined with daily payment information? Or, similarly, are there patterns that can be extracted by understanding the locations and types of violations written in conjunction with parking occupancy data?

A dynamic city needs a platform that can help it become more adaptable. The right technology can play an integral role in this success by enabling mobility in a city focused on thriving in this era.

Devin Patel is the Vice President of Business Development for Passport. He can be reached at Devin@Passportinc.com.