From time to time, I have asked myself, “Is parking that much different in other countries?” The International Parking Institute (IPI) holds an International Parking Conference each year, most recently in Cali Colombia, so there must be common ground in order for the conference to be as successful as it has become. PARCS manufacturers are global companies, each having an international presence. With each question I asked, I realized more questions remained. Despite the differences in language, culture, and government rules and regulations, parking around the world may be similar and different at the same time.
I decided to do a quick inquiry into different parts of the world. I looked at the city of my birth—Dundee, Scotland—and New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. I relied on input from fellow IPI member and CAPP candidate Mark Jameson, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
I started with Dundee and found a document on the City of Dundee’s website titled Parking Annual Report 2014, A few interesting items were noted that are almost identical to the issues we face in the U.S., but there are twists:
- One change made in response to the review was upgrading pay-and-display parking meters, eliminating the need for coins as payment. A parker can park his car, walk to the pay-and-display machine, press a button on the device, send a text message from their phone, and the machine will print a receipt to display. This technology is very user-friendly with no need to set up any accounts in advance. If you have a phone, you have a payment method.
- Dundee City introduced license plate recognition (LPR) at most of the car parks, allowing automatic entry and exit for resident permit holders and monthly parkers. Wellington uses LPR in garages similar to Dundee, and also for enforcement.
- Enforcement within the City of Dundee is a challenge due to various restrictions. An interim phase was added to the enforcement process. In lieu of a citation, the enforcement officer provides a warning notice. Repeat offenders get citations. I am not aware of many cities issuing a courtesy notice to parking violators, but there may be some.
- Service improvements in Dundee over the course of the year included:
- Cashless payment service where parking can be paid for over the phone or via a mobile phone app.
- The introduction of electric enforcement vehicles has allowed parking enforcement officers to provide more effective enforcement in areas preciously patrolled on foot.
- One innovation that I thought was quite innovative was the use of body worn cameras (BWC) by enforcement officers. The purpose is to document abuse of enforcement officers by the public. Since the introduction, the number of incidents of abuse against officers has reduced dramatically.
- Wellington uses embedded sensors in the parking stalls of the CBD. The sensors allow a parker to use a mobile app to pay for parking and find available parking close to their parking destination. An added benefit in Wellington is compliance enforcement.
I must admit that after my inquiry, parking is more universal than I had perceived. Terminology may be a little different, but the technology, concepts, and practices remain similar.