Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do You Gamble When You Park?

The Societal Perspective of Parking Fairness & Enforcement

They say cities are managed by “real people”. People, elected into office and in turn work for the good of the people who elected them. City staff enforces the rules and regulations of the city and the laws, which have been voted on and placed upon the legal statutes. Each citizen informed through public means of the laws by which they must abide or face the consequences. Fact of the matter is, you will never please everybody and each individual will have a differing opinion on what is right and wrong about the city’s legal system and charter. Politician against business owner, member of the public against elected official and so it goes...

Parking opinions revolve in cycles, the public and business leaders wanting one thing and the city leadership wanting another. Management of enforcement always wish to put their own spin and stamp of approval on the day-to-day running of such matters. It should not happen, but it does. Productivity and efficiency should be the only criteria. Is that not the logic of life?

Parking spaces and parking rights have been discussed, argued and fought over since the automobile first rolled off the production line and on to the streets. A parking space is a piece of real estate managed by the city. It has a built-in cost annualized and rented out for use by the citizenry. If the renter overstays their welcome, there is a further fee or penalty. If they happen to be breaking other laws whilst in that rented space, then the penalties apply and are collectable. Pretty simple you would think?

Parking enforcement revenues are only second to gambling profits. Shhhh, do not let anyone in a city parking enforcement know that I just told you an economic fact of life. It is a given that a well-managed parking enforcement department can contribute a considerable amount of a city’s revenue and have a very manageable overhead. Good business sense and team effort is all it takes.

So why are cities complaining that revenues are down? It is not that the
public has changed its parking habits. In fact, the parking abilities of most citizens have become even worse. They gamble that because the economy is down and jobs within cities are being cut, they have a better chance of beating the system. There is nothing like gambling against a city law and winning. Oh dear, it is like walking into a casino and thinking you will beat the tables and be a millionaire. If a gambling person I would say, your chances are slim to none!

It is all about risk taking! 

Cities believe that the parking enforcement solution providers can make it all better by going so called high tech. Sadly, not the fact, what the manufacturers of so-called high-tech and what is really a nuisance, are two different things. Handheld computer machines with a printer attached to the hip are awkward and cumbersome to use all day long. The wrong keys get pressed, the ticket paper jams and heaven forbid if the machine shuts down all together.

Remember people are lazy and even when they are asked to do their job, will try every which they can to ease their load. Look, parking enforcement is not the most affectionate job in the whole wide world, then again, nor is an executioner!

So what are we talking about? Are we a solution provider? Yes, with a better mousetrap and proven to boot! How high-tech are we? We are not to the user, that is the parking enforcement officer, they are going to use a digital pen, paper citation and a cell phone. All of the high-tech stuff happens behind the scenes and does not concern them. A little retraining on filling out the citation is required and can be as much as fifteen minutes at the most.

Our record of accomplishment for usage is more than acceptable as we have
cities that have been using the solution for over 6 years and never replaced a digital pen. No upgrades on the frontend whatsoever, everything to the user is just as simple as using a pen. No paper to jam and certainly no lost or deferred data. It is a “real time” solution that brings in the revenue. The online payment portal is simplistic and used from a computer or a Smartphone and is payable within seconds if they so wish.

You can have all the most fangled gizmos you want to tell you someone has parked, what it comes down to is enforcing an infraction. The ability to write the ticket, take photographic evidence and in “real time” have it on the system with a method of payment at hand. If they wish to challenge, this to, is online with the hearing officer having all the evidence right in front of them to adjudicate the challenge. In most cases, you hear “case confirmed and challenge dismissed”!

The cost per digital pen is in the hundreds and is not obsolete in a matter of months. Other handheld devices are always being upgraded or made obsolete. Everything we do is in the background and does not require retraining in any way, shape or form.

Just think, the answer is “write” at your fingertips... 

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