Every day, local authorities across the UK are faced with a thankless exercise. They try to balance the expectations of their constituents with the reality of delivering core services amidst a period of austerity, limited resources and sweeping societal change.
Parking remains a highly fractious topic as it often represents a significant income stream for authorities but the experiences that local residents, businesses, and visitors have when parking is often very poor. This experience is characterised by having difficulty locating a space, understanding local on-street restrictions and rigid tariff structures that don’t reflect how people need to park.
Struggling urban centres and high streets cite parking as a significant challenge, with the stress associated with finding and paying for parking linked to people avoiding local shops, increasingly turning to home delivery or even driving to retail parks.
We believe in a positive vision for parking, one that not only transforms experiences for motorists but also provides the digital infrastructure and insight for authorities to optimise their assets. With an integrated approach, that considers the needs of both user groups, a win-win scenario is possible and that’s what we call our Smart City Parking solution.
In Harrogate, the AppyParking team encountered two local authorities, Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), determined to improve the parking experiences for local residents, businesses and visitors as part of their wider economic investment strategy.
Our Smart City Parking solution is specifically designed to best serve the needs of those who need to park whilst providing a powerful kerbside management tool for local authorities to better manage and optimise their assets.
The project required close collaboration with two authorities, with Harrogate Borough Council responsible for the operation of off-street parking and North Yorkshire County Council being the Highways Authority and responsible for the provision of on-street parking.
The solution, launched publicly in January 2019 is a global first, and involved the installation of 2,156 smart sensors and the consolidation of digitised parking data, parking sensors, parking payments, ANPR barriers and linear pricing into a single solution for the two authorities that enabled a totally seamless experience for users of our mobile app.
The user experience for drivers is game-changing, allowing them to find available on-street or off-street parking with real-time availability and start and pay for parking sessions that end automatically when they drive away with a single click – something we call One Click Parking™. We also accomplished an entirely frictionless experience for drivers when using ANPR barrier car parks.
The local authorities are now able to see how their assets are consumed through our web-hosted analytics platform which exposes parking utilisation data for all on and off-street parking spaces thanks to our smart parking sensors.
Convenient and cost-effective in-app payments save time and reduce the anxiety of needing to return to their vehicle before pay and display ticket expires.
Longer visits encouraged as a result of improved experience of finding and paying for parking, without the worry of running out of time.
Parking availability in the app alleviates concerns of driving into town and not being able to find a space near their destination.
Powerful utilisation and revenue insights to enable data driven policy decisions.
Opportunity to optimise operating hours and tariffs to reflect demand patterns and traffic management objectives.
Real-time availability reduces time spent searching for parking, supporting policies targeted at lowering congestion & emission.
Harrogate Borough Council are committed to improving the lives of our residents and visitors to our town and the introduction of the Smart City Parking scheme presented an opportunity to deliver the first example in the UK of a fully seamless barrier car park experience with ‘linear’, pay-per-minute rates.
We expect that by embracing this new technology, we will support our goal of improving the customer’s parking experience at these locations. By integrating with our current pay on foot system, we believe the new solution from AppyParking will deliver the following benefits:
- Parking availability in the AppyParking app will reassure drivers spaces are available in our car parks before they begin their journey, resulting in increased car park occupancy.
- The significantly improved customer experience will encourage repeat use of and recommendation of off-street parking by drivers.
- Greater flexibility for customers to not feel restricted by block tariffs, since after the minimum charge, they will benefit from a linear, minute by minute tariff.
Susan McGarry, Parking Services Manager, Harrogate Borough Council
We continue to seek innovative ways to improve traffic flow in Harrogate. This system should mean users travel shorter distances looking for a parking space, which will help us to improve the environment and traffic management.
A big benefit is that it is an attraction for visitors. If they have the app, they won’t need to worry about parking. They can be guided to an available space. The visitor and leisure economy are so important to Harrogate and this will give the town yet another unique selling point.
Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Councillor, Executive Member for Access
We want to make parking easier and more convenient for people, as well as providing a parking solution that helps encourage people to visit Harrogate town centre. This is not only the first of its kind in Yorkshire but the UK as well.
These days so many services and payments are carried out on a smartphone, it’s only right that parking is part of that. Gone will be the days of running back to your car just before your ticket runs out!
It also supports the key priorities of our plan to build a strong local economy, provide excellent public services as well as a sustainable environment. We look forward to seeing the scheme in action, assessing its performance over the 18-month pilot period and receiving feedback from people who use it.
Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Councillor, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport