DCA Wins Excellence in Technology and Innovation Award

Database Consultants Australia were named as the winner of Excellence in Technology and Innovation at the 2016 Parking Industry Awards for world-leading innovation of parking technology in the City of Melbourne. The project included infringement-grade sensors, integrated enforcement technology (PinForce) and consumer parking application (PayStay).

The outright success of the integrated technology at the City of Melbourne has seen the landscape of parking behaviour completely change, with the city benefiting from a significant increase in compliance.

The City of Melbourne tendered for a fully integrated, sensor based infringement system to enable its smart city planning program in late 2015, electing DCA to implement its technology.

In-ground sensors, placed in the middle of Melbourne parking bays, collect parking information that is stored within its on-board memory, including time, restrictions and location. The officer, who walks by these sensors on their designated route, communicates with these sensors to determine the status of the sensor and the vehicles which park above them. The officer can then categorically determine if a vehicle has overstayed its time allotment, such is the accuracy of the sensor data that is captured.

After capturing the information, the officer can then issue a warning or infringement from their mobile device, which doubles as their actual mobile phone to be used for other work purposes. With the mobile connectivity, the officer can synchronise the parking infringement information back to the City of Melbourne management system, who upload it to their processing system, including photos and infringement details. This streamlines the infringement process and creates greater efficiencies for staff.

The infringement data is then captured in the cities’ management tool to generate a large number of reports, which assist the city in traffic management, city planning and transport decisions.

Along with the increased enforcement capabilities creating a greater compliance rate, the city also enjoys a vast range of statistics it can pull from the sensor technology. Information such as utilisation, traffic flow and visitation can all be collected from the technology, which the city has allowed the public to view.

This data opens up the city to new worlds of innovative thinking, including traffic planning, urban development and more. With the worldwide push for open data and data analytics, the information provided by the sensors hits the mark in ways that the average onlooker could not imagine.

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article about the power of the City of Melbourne sensors, revealing just a portion of the statistics available:

“…The parking events data is just one of the data sets that have been released on the beta version of Melbourne City Council’s new open data platform. Powered using Socrata, the platform allows users to crunch the numbers in their browser, create and share different views or visualisations of information or connect the data to their preferred analysis software.

A few people have already played around with the data set. For example, one user made a graph of the worst zones for parking infringements.

But we only scratched the surface of the data in picking out the most violated space – using such a rich data set it could be possible to do much more detailed analysis of transport dynamics within the CBD. That’s something the council already does, using the sensor information to gauge demand for parking bays over time.

A council spokesman said the aim of website was to “harness the talents and potential of our community, to help answer and solve the city’s questions and challenges”.

The outlay of cost for the sensor technology has been well and truly recouped by the increased accuracy of the infringements, the greater officer efficiency and the better turnover of parking spaces. Within a year, the city can more than cover its financial outlay on the technology, due to the substantial amount of efficiency gains generated by the system.

Furthering the benefits provided by the enforcement technology, DCA also provide consumer technology to the City of Melbourne, in the way of parking payment application PayStay. PayStay, which is integrated directly to the enforcement system PinForce, gives motorists the power to make parking payments via their smartphone, via voice to text and through the locally based call centre.

The call centre provides a whole new level of customer service for users of the application throughout the City of Melbourne, and all other municipalities that have employed the system. With friendly, Australian based staff, DCA offers a ‘valet’ service when it comes to delivering a paid parking solution, meaning motorists do not need to concern themselves with the hassles that come with paid parking. The PayStay team deliver concise, efficient services to consumers of PayStay who may own older mobile technologies (e.g. a Nokia 3300 non-smartphone) and prefer the personalised assistance of the valet service. PayStay’s smartphone ‘app’ based solution provides motorists with modern efficiencies and allows motorists to only pay for the time they wish to park. It also provides convenient reminders when their parking is due to expire.

The City of Melbourne project is innovative, breaking ground by incorporating multiple aspects of the parking management toolkit into one integrated product to achieve maximum efficiency.

Comment from Sandy Del Papa, DCA Civic Compliance Director:

“To receive such a high honour for our innovation is a real thrill,” said DCA’s Director for Civic Compliance, Sandy Del Papa.

“We really pride ourselves on our innovation, and we emphasise this trait as a key part of how we operate. This is absolutely a team effort, which I can’t thank everyone enough for.”

Mr Del Papa also reserved a big mention the City of Melbourne for their vision in allowing DCA’s technology to blossom since first adopting the PinForce system in 2001.

“The City of Melbourne has used our technology since 2001, when they were one of the first cities to digitalise their enforcement regime,” he said.

“Since then, as our technology has developed and exceeded expectations, the city has adopted it and has really led the way in pioneering the digital movement in parking. I must also thank the city for entrusting us as a provider and am looking forward to future innovations being implemented, which is already well underway.”

Image: Dean Robertson from the City of Melbourne pictured with DCA’s Civic Compliance Director, Sandy Del Papa (holding award) and Vanessa Solesbee.


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