Member News: Municipal Parking Services’ Smart Meter Technology In Flint Michigan Selected As Finalist For 2020 IDC Smart Cities North America Awards

MINNETONKA, Minn (Feb 19, 2020) – Smart city technology company Municipal Parking Services, Inc. (“MPS”) announced today that its Sentry System parking management technology is the source technology for Flint AutoPark, a project that has been identified as one of three finalists in the Transportation Infrastructure category for the 2020 Smart Cities North America Awards sponsored by IDC Government Insights. The nominated MPS Sentry System technology has been rebranded locally as Flint AutoPark by the Flint, MI Downtown Development Authority (“Flint DDA”). MPS installed Sentry technology in Flint during the summer of 2019 and has been operating it as Flint AutoPark in conjunction with the Flint DDA as part of a public private partnership since October 2019.

“We are thrilled that Flint AutoPark has been named as a finalist for this prestigious award,” stated Brian Cassady, CEO of MPS. “The DDA leadership had a very unique and refreshing vision of how consumer-friendly regulated parking should operate, and fortunately they selected Sentry as the base technology to bring their concepts to life.”

The core capability which makes Sentry so unique is its ability to visually identify and document when a vehicle has arrived into a parking space. It can then monitor the vehicle throughout the parking session and finally recognize when the vehicle has exited. Those features allow Flint AutoPark to offer consumers unparalleled, flexible payment options.

“The idea is to facilitate a touchless, park-and-go experience for drivers rather than subjecting them to fumbling for coins, dropping credit cards in the snow and playing with a phone payment app,” explained Mark Moran, VP of R&D for MPS.

Sentry’s vision technology provides Flint’s consumers with several payment options that align with a more convenient experience. Consumers may manually pay for their parking at any time during their parking session, whether that is at the beginning, middle or end, without risking a ticket. In addition, consumers may pre-pay for parking prior to enforcement hours, and the system will then apply payments when enforcement starts. And of course, the system still allows consumers all the typical payment methods offered by more conventional parking technology such as via mobile app, credit card or any denomination of coins, except pennies. But the ultimate convenience is Flint AutoPark’s Concierge Service. It allows consumers to register their license plates(s) for an automatic touchless payment process that involves no user intervention. After a vehicle arrives, the system recognizes the plate and automatically debits from the driver’s Concierge account for the time the vehicle is parked, and the user never has to use their phone app or access a parking meter for the transaction. This is great for anyone who makes multiple deliveries throughout the day. In addition, it’s extremely convenient for a company to prepay one account and list all their vehicle license plates, so that their employees never need to worry about paying a meter, and owners never have to worry about getting a ticket.

In the event a consumer doesn’t pay, the system is capable of documenting and reporting the violation to an enforcement officer. The officer can then remotely evaluate the evidence and, if desired, issue a citation by mail.

Since going live in the fall, the system has produced dramatic improvements in parker behavior. Flint’s parking payment compliance rate, which was 40%, has steadily improved to exceed 65% and is on-track to reach 90% by mid-April. And violations per space per day have steadily fallen as consumers have become familiar with the new system and taken advantage of its convenient payment options.

Gerard Burnash, Flint D.D.A. Director, said “This system has allowed us to integrate multiple payment options to our visitors for the most effortless parking experience possible. In addition, it has helped promote the use of off-street long-term parking, freeing up valuable parking for retail business, and has increased revenue. This is a win-win-win for everyone involved.”

Winners of the Smart Cities North America Awards will be honored at the Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo to be held April 6–9 in Denver, Colorado.

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