You might love this tech on the market, but you’ll hate it in the car park
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No one likes paying for parking, and when you can’t even cheat by a couple of minutes? Sacrilege.
But parking spots that automatically know when you’re a minute over are the logical extension of a multi-thousand dollar parking industry.
“Front and centre, any smart city should start with the thing that’s clogging the place up, parking,” Smart Parking boss Paul Gillespie told Stockhead.
When city council parking divisions are pulling in “$20 or $30 or $40 million a year, that’s a big business… it’s completely logical to (use technology to) manage the space more effectively”.
Smart Parking (ASX:SPZ) on Monday announced it had landed an $800,000 contract with Hobart City Council to install 2100 sensors, and extended a deal with Hamilton City Council in New Zealand.
The company is based in Melbourne but the tech came from New Zealand via a backdoor listing in 2012.
Since the company began to refocus in 2013, it’s signed deals across New Zealand, Sydney and the ACT as well as upgraded its UK parking management business, bought in 2012.
The tech itself, while causing outrage among drivers pinged for staying scant minutes over their time, is a next step for cities — real-time sensors installed in parking spaces, licence plate cameras, and RFID and an app allows contactless payments and directions to free parking spaces.
New Zealand was the early adopter but Australian cities, including Sydney and Canberra, are beginning to see the benefits.
Mr Gillespie says at home they only provide the technology, whereas the UK is a different story: Smart Parking owns private car parks where it collects the fines itself. Instead of boom gates, cameras capture licence plates as drivers enter and exit the park.
Mr Gillespie says as a private park owner the company can access the national Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency database (DVLA) to cross check licence plates with registered vehicle owners, and send out fines.
Unsurprisingly, this practice among private car park owners has given rise to wealth of complaints online, a petition, and a lawsuit about unfair ticketing.
While automatic number plate recognition is not new, Mr Gillespie says their safe spot in the UK market comes from software which can double check data from the DVLA and send the right fine to the right person — meaning that fine collections are high.
Some places just prefer having boots on the ground however, as UK store Matalan cancelled its contract with Smart Parking in March, saying it wanted a manned, rather than a tech parking solution.