Car Park

Parking technology: the changes impacting council services

By: Kush Parikh, President of PayByPhone
Published: Monday, September 28, 2015 - 10:39 GMT Jump to Comments

Last year, the Department for Communities and Local Government published a report encouraging local government to adopt more digital services. The motivation was to deliver £500 million savings per year for the next ten years.

What’s surprising is that there are over 600 different services that councils in England provide to the public in their local areas. Those councils who are progressively becoming digitised are already reaping the benefits and saving, on average, 25 percent year-on-year.

Many local authorities, however, haven’t fully embraced the incredible savings potential of providing digital services by using modern tools and technologies - with mobile at the forefront.

Embracing digital technologies can fundamentally change how councils provide services to residents, both directly and indirectly. It can encompass recycling and housing, leisure and urban mobility, or services including parking.

It’s time for councils to be more ambitious with their transition plans to digital as consumers are slowly becoming more and more comfortable with technology and mobile innovation. With 93 percent of UK adults personally owning or using a mobile phone and 57 percent using it to access the internet, it’s important for local authorities to align their online services accordingly.

The use of technology has enabled us to move towards a self-service society, whereby human intervention is becoming almost invisible – and in addition, has helped councils make significant cost savings.

In fact, a study across 120 local councils looked at the total of all costs associated with email communication, answering a call or handling a contact in person. A face-to-face contact is nearly fifty times more expensive than online!

One example of this in practice is Council Tax payments. If not paying by councils’ preferred option of Direct Debit, residents can now pay online, which significantly reduces the administrative and paperwork costs to the council once the customer’s payment via cheque has been delivered.

It also reduces the number of calls to the contact centre with queries or to make the payments, which can improve efficiency and reallocate resources that could be better used elsewhere.

With the growing popularity of cashless payments, one of the ways local authorities can improve and personalise services is through the use of mobile applications - in particular when it comes to urban transport.

A number of cities across the UK are already encouraging its councils to embrace technologies of this nature. For example, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is one of the latest London boroughs to ‘go digital’ and adopt cashless mobile parking, by encouraging the use of our PayByPhone app.

Using the app, drivers can pay for parking on their mobile without having the stress of worrying about whether they have change while benefiting from the ability to top up remotely if they need more time on the meter.

As well as making urban mobility more efficient for drivers, cities nationwide such as Brighton & Hove have reported savings of a quarter of a million pounds a year, by implementing innovative mobile technology and replacing almost half of costly Pay & Display (P&D) machines.

We are seeing natural inflection points around adoption as more councils remove these machines, absorb convenience fees and remove cash boxes to encourage greater use of cashless payments.

This not only enables councils to make more money per transaction and save money through lower maintenance, servicing and collection costs, but it gives consumers the convenience of topping up remotely, receiving an e-receipt and reducing the chance of getting a parking fine.

As we move into a mobile era, councils should be looking at ways to further get behind digital, harness it and drive more revenues through consumer self-service. Extending these technologies deeper throughout their services and operations not only saves paperwork and time for councils and reduces costs, but also improves urban life for all – letting city dwellers pay in a way that suits them best.

Having an online platform enables local authorities to engage with digital natives and help to modernise the UK economy. The local councils that embrace this new digital age will see the potential to interact with citizens more effectively as well as, ultimately, improving their levels of efficiency.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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