High-tech carpark opens in Palmerston North

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 14:00 10/03/2014
Frogparking
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
LEAPS AND BOUNDS: Frogparking Business Development Manager Michael Tuttiett using a iPhone Frogparking app via a frogparking sensor attached to windscreen.

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Palmerston North has become home to what may be the world’s most high-tech carpark, where the amount drivers pay depends on how many spaces are available.

The 33-space carpark in the city’s Church Street has been kitted out with solar-powered sensors by local parking technology firm Frogparking that can tell which parks are occupied. Drivers pay for parking through their smartphone.

Frogparking has been providing ticketless parking systems to Palmerston North for a few years, but director Don Sandbrook said the new system was its most advanced yet, with cheaper parking if there were lots of spaces available and higher prices if they were nearly all taken. The tariff ranges from 50 cents to $2 an hour.

Regular patrons can use a GPS-enabled windscreen tag that will automatically bill their credit card, but there is no cash option.

Sandbrook said there was plenty of on-street parking nearby for “little old ladies” who found the technology complicated. “If you don’t have a smartphone, we don’t want you to park in the carpark.”

He believed everyone would be paying for all parking by smartphone within 10 years. “There will be no other way.”

Drivers pay only for the time they are parked and local retailers can send codes to customers’ smartphones that entitle them to have their parking fees refunded if they take up shopping offers.

A local cafe, Cafe Moxies, has been the first to do that, but three other retailers are offering parkers in-store discounts.

Sandbrook said Palmerston North could become the “world’s innovation hub” for the parking industry and help cities around the world revive their retail centres.

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- Fairfax Media

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