The USA’s very first parking meter entered service in 1935 and only accepted 5‑cent coins. Today, drivers in many locations can use their credit cards to pay for parking via multi‑space or even smart single-space meters. Although that is undoubtedly a huge leap forward, the basic process remains unchanged after almost 80 years. NOW! Innovations believes that drivers should enjoy a personalised service using the latest technology, which is why it has developed a platform to manage this revolution.
NOW! Innovations had already seen great success with its platform in Europe and decided to bring mobile parking to the largest and most established parking market in the world. Its service could make parking payments faster, simpler and more accurate for consumers across the USA as well as easier for local authorities to handle. All this would be delivered by technology that most people already carry with them at all times: the mobile phone.
Advanced parking meters are a major upgrade from conventional meters but still require the user to find the meter, possibly queue and then operate a complex machine. Every city or town may have a different set of meters with unfamiliar controls and processes. Although drivers can sometimes avoid the need to use coins in certain meters, the payment process is still often time-consuming and troublesome. From the city’s perspective, hardware can be pricy, installation and maintenance are also expensive and it’s not easy to gather data about customers and their behaviour.
The MobileNOW! founders were impressed when mobile parking was launched in Europe in early 2000. They saw a great opportunity to introduce the service in their home market. Since NOW! Innovations had a platform that offered the most functionality at the lowest price, MobileNOW! decided to license this technology.
NOW! Innovations has developed a platform that can either be used as an alternative parking payment and fee collection method alongside existing technology or as a stand‑alone solution. Since many US cities already have an efficient parking infrastructure, some parking operators have chosen to enhance their service by offering mobile payments as an additional convenience to drivers. The NOW! Innovations platform caters to wide range of customer needs, including the option of paying by making a phone call (IVR), using smartphone apps or even hands-on-wheel solution. Using mobile devices for payment allows customers to remotely extend their parking session if allowed, avoiding the need to return to the meter. The result is a service that’s fast, easy, customer-centric and convenient.
In 2013, NOW! Innovations has brought digital resident permits to the market. This addition has allowed the municipalities to issue parking permits easier and digitalize the process. Also, it has become a lot more convenient for the drivers to get a permit, they just have to log into their account and with a few clicks the permit is received instead of making a few trips to the municipal offices and filling in the paperwork.
Additionally, the NOW! Innovations approach allows operators to learn more about their customers’ parking behaviour and can even let them adjust the rates or associated regulations. Implementing mobile payments can also reduce hardware costs, meter maintenance fees, cash collection expenses and the incidences of theft and fraud. Ultimately, fewer meters are needed.
If a city already has latest generation parking meters, NOW! Innovations can integrate its platform with the parking system to provide additional information to the city’s data management system. Standard and customised reports can be generated from the platform to monitor parking transactions, usage statistics and enforcement.
The facts prove the project’s success. There are today almost 300,000 US drivers using the NOW! Innovations platform across the country. Although the NOW! Innovations platform at the moment is just used for parking, permitting, and Electric Vehicle charging, such additional services as bike parking and self‑service retail payments are in the development. All this has allowed MobileNOW! to become the third largest mobile parking operator in the US with ambitious plans for growth and innovation.
"We will look back at this time and the flowering of technology as one that transformed parking. The closest comparison would be the invention of the cash register in the 19th century, which totally transformed commerce."
- Donald Shoup, Professor of parking and transportation, UCLA
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