The permit application and issuing process in Newcastle was paper-based and manually intensive.
This issue was compounded by the need to provide additional ad-hoc, visitor permits.
These operational challenges extend to the enforcement function with Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) having to undertake a visual inspection of every permit. CEOs need to undertake regular patrols to address infringements and ensure the effectiveness of the permit schemes.
It is estimated there are between 17,000 and 20,000 non-residential car parks in Great Britain, providing between 3 and 4 million spaces.
Furthermore, paper permits are prone to falling out of sight or being displayed incorrectly, which results in high volumes of Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) appeals and complaints.
To meet budgetary constraints, the parking service needed to minimise operational overheads, particularly those that are avoidable. Furthermore, the development of a truly smart parking service required the ability for permits to be validated by means other than a visual inspection.
Solving the problem
Working closely with the council’s parking service managers, Urban Foresight developed a business case for a solution to support web-enabled permit applications, including requests for visitor permits.
The ability to access this virtual permit data through CEO handheld devices would allow vehicle registration numbers to be scanned and eliminate the need for visual inspection of permits.
This work was undertaken in the context of a wider transformation programme to deliver a fully cashless parking service.
The council plans to launch this new service in the financial year 2021/22.
A feasibility study undertaken by Urban Foresight identified significant operational savings and revenue generating potential, valued at £324k over a 5-year period.
The potential for virtual permit system to compliment wider potential investments in Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and real-time routing of enforcement officers was also reviewed by Urban Foresight.