Pay-by-Plate Technology Differentiates the ParkPlus System
The ParkPlus System uses license plates as the primary identifier for customers. Customers enter the system using their license plate numbers and the operator uses cameras to scan license plates to verify payment.
Once customers enter the ParkPlus System, there is a digital record of all customers that have paid at a particular location. Enforcement officers scan license plates using vehicle-mounted cameras and larger parking facilities use stationary cameras as a virtual gate. There is also a handheld application for enforcement officers to use on foot.
ParkPlus software pinpoints the license plates that have not made payment. Enforcement notices are processed and sent by mail, or can be placed on the vehicle at the time of issue.
Parking sessions can be initiated and paid for a number of ways:
- at pay stations located in proximity to a parked vehicle (coins, credit card or value added cards);
- via cell phones by sending a text message;
- calling an interactive voice response (IVR) system; or
- using a mobile web application.
Customers initiate a parking session at a pay station by entering their license plate number and the parking zone in which they are parked by means of the full alpha-numeric keyboard, and then make payment, selecting the amount of time for which they want to park. An optional receipt is available, but there is no need to return to the vehicle to place the receipt on the dashboard.
Mobile Account-based Payments
Payment for a parking session can also be made by means of a cell phone or smartphone. The customer is able to set up an account online, into which funds are loaded, along with the associated cell phone numbers and license plate numbers of the vehicles to be used by the account holder.
At the time of parking, the customer initiates a parking session using the cell phone to call either an IVR number or sends a text message, and enters the zone number of the location where their vehicle is parked. This activates a parking transaction and the user’s account is debited. At the end of the parking session, the user once again phones or texts to stop the session. Payment need only be made for the time parked.
The smart phone app works in a similar manner. The customer opens the app on their smartphone, logs in and enters the parking zone number to start the parking session. When leaving, the customer opens the app and ends the parking session.
Since the customer is known in account-based payments, the ParkPlus System can be programmed to provide call back or email alerts to remind the customer that they do have a parking session activated, as well as to notify of the imminent end of a session or of a low or depleted account balance.
Online payments for non-account customers
The ParkPlus System also provides for smart phone access to an online site, through a QR code and URL posted on signs in the vicinity of the parking lot or space. This provides for credit card payment directly to the ParkPlus System website without the requirement that an account be set up. This process takes longer than the use of an account and is most suitable for more occasional parking transactions.
Parking contracts and permits
The ParkPlus System supports various kinds of electronic permits or contracts. These can be set up by an administrator or can be self-managed by the permit holder, both through online access to the system.
The self-managed permit typically requires that the user enters a specified identification code, such as an employee number, access card number, or membership number, or a specific parking code number could be provided to a permit holder. The user enters the number to set up an account, into which the appropriate license plate numbers are entered. Changes to plate numbers, or use of a different vehicle, can then be made by the permit holder directly into their permit account. This approach reduces the time required to administer a permit system, is convenient for the permit holder, and eliminates the need to issue paper permits, including re-issue for lost permits. It also provides for more control over the use of the permit, as the license plate serves as the permit identifier, and use can be efficiently monitored on an ongoing basis as the result of enforcement activities.
In the ParkPlus System, a vehicle’s license plate number is the identifier that ties a parking transaction or permit to a particular vehicle. The license plate number is collected as part of the payment transaction when a parking session is initiated. This digital record is automatically matched with the record of the vehicle being present in the parking space or lot as collected by a camera, whether handheld, mounted on a vehicle, or stationary at entry and exit.
After a period of time sufficient to ensure all payment and vehicle presence information has entered the central processing software through the wireless network, instances of infractions – that is, vehicles found to be parked for which corresponding payment has not been made, or for which a digital permit has not been issued – are flagged to an enforcement officer via the enforcement software. Each such event can then be reviewed by the enforcement officer who decides whether an enforcement ticket is to be mailed to the owner of the vehicle requiring payment of a fine. Consideration of appropriate grace times or other factors, such as type of vehicle (e.g., buses, city marked vehicles, etc.) can be part of the process of deciding whether an enforcement ticket is to be issued.
Some jurisdictions may not currently provide for the mail out of enforcement tickets. Though not as efficient as the above methodology, in this environment the ParkPlus System provides for the issue of tickets in real time, which are placed on the vehicle windshield. An enforcement officer records the license plate number on a handheld computer device, or through a camera system mounted on a patrol vehicle. Any current transaction record for the relevant plate number is retrieved from the system and automatically matched to the plate number. Where there is no match, an enforcement ticket is printed out and placed on the vehicle.