EasyPark USA: Aspen Commercial Vehicle Case Study
In an age of internet based technologies and “smart” cities, some may feel that an in-vehicle parking meter system is antiquated, one that should perhaps be relegated to parking history. The city of Aspen however, felt differently. In May 2016 EasyPark received an email from the city wondering if our system still existed and demonstrating interest in bringing it to their service vehicles. Aspen saw a unique use for these peculiar devices and rightfully so. Our system design has worked so well that we have established a business division dedicated to this niche client.
This is the story of EasyPark Aspen.
Aspen Commercial Vehicle Case Study
Aspen is a special place which posed new and unique chal- lenges for EasyPark USA. The servicemen and the businesses operating in the city watch costs and are cognizant of park- ing rates. Prior to the implementation of the EasyPark USA system, there was a general dissatisfaction with the parking system which lead to disregard for parking regulations in the city. At the same time, the city lacked the infrastructure to properly enforce compliance.
Aspen had adopted in vehicle parking meter systems in the past whose use became a badge of honor for residents of the town, as opposed to visitors. While previous systems did not fill Aspen’s needs, the city was inspired by some of the successes of the neighboring American cities and was motivated to move forward with a new plan. Thus, we were approached to develop a system which would regulate parking areas and simultaneously increase revenues. As the city increased parking rates it provided discounted rates for registered service vehicles and users of in-vehicle devices. With this, they hoped to enhance customer satisfaction and generate more income for the city. It worked!
The fact that EasyPark products have extremely low imple- mentation costs, allowed our company to begin operations without delay. However, we did encounter some challenges from the start. First, we launched the program remotely and although there will no catastrophic software failures, our team was not on the ground to troubleshoot or provide hands-on training of our proprietary softwares to the team in Aspen. As we are a relatively small company, it is sometimes difficult for team members to provide in person support at specific times. Other than this issue, the setup was straightforward in its exe- cution. We were able to walk through the zone configurations and customize the experience for the city.
The city itself managed customer engagement and device distribution. This method was ideal because the city has a close relationship with its residents and businesses. Aspen marketed the program with a letter that went out to all reg- istered businesses which informed them of the new chang- es. Once these letters were received, people went into the parking department to obtain the devices.
Our customer service, tech support and software develop- ment teams are structured to efficiently and seamlessly on- board clients and customers. The existing support structure for all cities and universities on our network allowed us to roll Aspen right into the fold and continue business as usual from that perspective.
The Aspen team did the majority of the work in terms of on-boarding customers, so we were not exposed to the immediate challenges that customers faced in real time. However, the new system was well received by businesses and the revenue from parking tripled. One of the features enjoyed by customers is that the meter can be refilled by any customer from the comfort of their own home or office. Gen- erally all processing and transaction fees are front-loaded to the customer so that the city does not pay processing fees and the customer only pays one lump sum. In this case, for the purposes of this project, the city has assumed all costs associated with our system, which are yearly membership fees of $11 and associated processing fees.
One of the drawbacks of the device-based system is that when the business administrator wants to reload devices, check parking histories or update details and configurations, it is a challenge to collect individual units from multiple vehi- cles. It is even more difficult when there are fleets that have vehicles servicing remote locations. In addition, since the system is not live, all history and data needs to be constant- ly synced with our servers through either connecting to a computer with a USB cable or tapping the device against an NFC reader. As a result we are investing heavily in research and development to create EasyPark Live, one of the first in-vehicle parking meter systems in the world that will be connected in real-time.
The implementation of the EasyPark USA system in Aspen has allowed for better control of parking in the city and has also in- creased revenue. There are further steps that may be taken. For example, the city may want to provide special parking programs to a certain group of people. In addition, the development of EasyPark Live will provide the city with immediate information on a daily basis and enable Aspen to measure usage and have a comprehensive view on parking in town.
This project has demonstrated that an in-vehicle parking meter program designed specifically for fleet/service/courier vehicles can be effective and manageable with very little capital investment, minimal administrative investment and little to no user pushback. As a result our company has developed a specific business division to work with cities and stakeholders on this particular challenge. It is unique to no city, and each community has nuances that need particular attention.
1694 Eglinton Ave West, Toronto, ON www.easyparkusa.com