Trial technology for car parks

JAMIE SMALL
Last updated 09:45 22/08/2014
Parking sensors
MARK TAYLOR/Fairax NZ

WAY OF THE FUTURE: Parking sensors installed in Grey St.

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Cashless car parking could be on the way for Hamilton.

A trial has started in Grey St, Worley Place and the Riverbank carpark using new sensors that sit under cars.

The sensors, designed by Cambridge company Smart Parking, could lead to a parking system with no roadside payment machines.

Instead, payment could be made by an RFID card - about the size of a credit card - that stays in your car and keeps track of your parking.

The card can be paid in advance or after parking, over the internet or telephone.

For now, though, the sensors are just collecting information for Hamilton City Council.

Smart Parking commercial manager Jake Bezzant said drivers only had to pay for as long as they stayed, rather than paying in advance.

Also, the council wouldn't have to pay people to collect cash from the machines.

"It's where the world will go."

The sensors can be linked to a cash-operated machine if required.

Bezzant said there were currently around 200 pay machines for parking in Hamilton.

"Smart Parking is a bit of a world leader," said Hamilton City Council parking activities team leader John Purcell.

He said the company recently won a parking contract in London City.

"There's a huge positive parking story emerging."

Purcell said most councils were too focused on infringements, and he wanted to change the public's attitude towards parking in Hamilton, which was not an easy task.

"People like paying for a product. They don't like having money taken off them."

Purcell has a lot of ideas for the parking technology, some of which don't require a lot of funding.

He said data from the sensors could be made available through phones and computers so drivers could find the closest free park to their destination.

"You'd be able to see the number of spaces before you even leave home. You'd be able to be guided to a space."

Purcell said he envisioned other value-added services, like allowing businesses to automatically pay the parking of their customers, or advertising to people parked in spaces near their store.

He said the technology was about responding to what drivers actually wanted.

They wanted to park as close to their destination as possible, he said, and they didn't want to walk over to a machine to pay for parking, then walk back to their car with a receipt.

"And they don't want a ticket, either," he said.

"There's no reason to get a ticket, but our compliance-based revenue would increase at the same time."

Purcell's ultimate goal is to get 3000 sensors installed around the city.

"I've got to make a business case for that."

He said there would be a "significant cost", but it would be worth it financially.

The council is also trialling parking technology from another company, Frog Parking, in Bryce St and Barton St.

jamie.small@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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