Posted on 25-Jan-2004 18:38
Filed under: News
Wellington City Council is starting a six-month trial of TXT-a-Park, New Zealand’s first pay-and-display parking machine system that allows Vodafone customers to pay for parking via SMS. The service was developed by Synergy International Ltd, Cash Handling Systems and Vodafone New Zealand, in conjunction with the council.
The 18 trial machines allow users the choice of paying by mobile phone or cash, with mobile transactions being debited to the user’s mobile phone account. The system has been designed to run on an ASP basis so that additional councils and new machines can be easily added.
Cash Handling Systems has integrated a GPRS dial-up modem into the new generation machine that communicates directly with Synergy’s application. Additional functionality allows remote machine monitoring and fault reporting in real time. Advantages for the council include the ability to configure the machine remotely, programme different messages and parking fees or waive fees altogether for special events.
The machines are a solid aluminium, vandal-resistant construction that run on solar/battery power. They have been designed to incorporate further payment options in the future including credit cards, notes and other card systems. They can also be configured to pay back change.
The parking application, built and hosted by Synergy, is based on IP developed by its Ericsson-Synergy joint venture. It has been designed to support access by multiple mobile operators and the intention with the Wellington trial, if successful, is to expand it to all mobile users.
Vodafone has configured its billing system to verify that the customer has available credit to make the payment while the transaction is underway. The Vodafone network supports the data communication between the machines and the application using GPRS technology.
Wellington City Council Parking Manager, Wayne Tacon, says the trial is the result of a truly collaborative effort between all the parties.
“We believe what makes it so special is the fact that usability has been kept extremely simple and we haven’t had to change the work process for our parking wardens. With cash still being a payment option, we haven’t limited the use of the machines for non-mobile phone users so they can still pay in the usual way.”
How does TXT-a-Park work?
The motorist goes to one of the new parking machines and presses the ‘TXT-a-Park’ button which identifies the cost of parking (either NZ$3 for 1 hour or NZ$6 for 2 hours).
The motorist sends a SMS with the machine’s unique code to 7275 (PARK).
The machine vends a ‘pay and display’ ticket and the motorist displays the ticket in the car as normal.
The motorist receives a SMS confirming receipt of funds from their Vodafone account or Prepay credit.
The machines will continue to take coins – giving motorists more choice, and there’s a NZ$0.50 fee for successful TXT-a-Park transactions on top of the parking fee.
The TXT-a-Park service is available to all Vodafone New Zealand customers including Prepay and monthly account customers. Users can find a map with location of all 18 trial machines in the Wellington City Council web site.