Warrnambool – The small change that made a big difference

Warrnambool City Council, like many regional councils, had parking issues which needed addressing. Warrnambool were experiencing intense population growth, which was expected to continue, and parking had become a concern for businesses and residents alike. To help address the issues they developed a City Centre Revitalisation Structure Plan. It became clear that improvements to parking were a key driver for future investments.

The eventual goals of the City Centre Parking Strategy were to:

a) Improve parking convenience, availability and accessibility for short term parkers, by providing a variety of alternatives including location, price and payment options.
b) Reduce traffic congestion and parking demand particularly for long term parkers.
c) Encourage change in parking behaviours, improve compliance and vehicle turnover.
d) Efficiently manage Council’s parking assets and provide adequate parking which will meet short term and long-term parking demand

Smarter City Solutions were awarded the tender in September 2017. They proposed combining 4 components to deliver a holistic solution which comprised of:

1. vPermit – a virtual permit solution in which all permits are managed online
2. CellOPark Pay-By-Phone – a free app for motorists to pay exactly for what they use (with no additional costs)
3. vCompliance – Integrated enforcement system which allows for real time access to data – both for officers and for motorists (to view images, pay fines and/or appeal them.
4. Pay-By-Plate machines – to allow one-off visitors who do not want to register to pay for parking using a system that is fully integrated with all the other.

While some other cities have one or more of those solutions, no other city in Australia have ever had all 4 fully integrated to provide a complete pay-by-plate city environment.

The additional benefits include that the checking is done in real time, meaning both the motorist and enforcement officer are better served by accurate data. If a motorist starts a session, they are instantly active and can be validated. The flow on effect is that the system can provide date stamp and GPS data, upload photos, which can be viewed online, to provide solid proof to minimize the potential for appeals or disputes. The ability to simply pay the fine online streamlines the entire life cycle of the ticket and provides issuing data to the provider.

Cloud based solutions require no internal servers or hardware infrastructure and are therefore have a very low cost to implement. This is further compounded by the reduced costs of managing the solutions and labour required to administer them. Internal IT departments do not have the responsibility to provide disaster recovery or back-ups as this is all managed by the cloud provider (Amazon Web Services).

The shift to Pay by Phone in conjunction with pay by plate machines required far fewer physical devices to be available. Warrnambool reduced their overall parking meter hardware from 300 to only 80!

Warrnambool City Council have identified the following improvements from the new solution:

• 5000 to 6000 paid parking session per day
• A 75% reduction in parking meters units
• A $1.8M saving in meter hardware costs over previous solution.
• Greener and more sustainable solution- Reduced power costs and paper usage, (solar powered meters, no need for tickets)
• Improved compliance meant higher turnover resulting in increased revenue.
• Pay By Phone reduced administration costs for parking revenue

Although a smaller regional council, Warrnambool’s solution is at the leading edge of a fully integrated parking platform and provides the council the much-needed levels of visibility and autonomy to provide their users a premium service.

Smarter City Solutions won the Excellence in Technology and Innovation – On Street category at the 2018 Parking Industry Awards.

Feedback from the judges identified the project as an example of a fully integrated end to end solution, which “combined with the rationalisation of equipment on-street, has delivered significant savings and sustainable benefits.”

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