Imperial helps Argyll & Bute Council to pounce on service improvement opportunities for residents and tourists
Like many outlying regions, the ability of Argyll and Bute Council to capitalise on the benefits of virtual and self-serve customer service solutions has been compromised by mobile network limitations. However, the authority has wasted no time in capitalising on network improvements in the region by working with Imperial and introducing the company’s cashless payment systems for parking, virtual permits for residents and real-time enforcement measures. The decisive action has resulted in an immediate improvement in operational efficiencies and service standards for customers, with 4G network coverage now established on the west coast mainland and neighbouringislands.
According to Keith Tennant, the authority’s Parking Supervisor, both visitors and residents are benefitting from the new service developments and the response from local businesses and shopkeepers has been extremely positive.
“The demand for cashless parking and a more convenient permit solution was considerable, but our hands have been tied due to the limited availability of a reliable mobile signal. That has now all changed. Imperial has helped us to take full advantage of far more efficient and convenient technologies, prompting a dramatic improvement in service standards for customers. The new systems have also delivered significant cost savings for the Council, reduced equipment maintenance costs and cash-handling and have simplified the management and enforcement of parking services across a very large geographical area.”
Building on the Council’s long-standing partnership with Imperial, the authority initially introduced PaySmarti as a pilot project in two car parks in the attractive seaside town of Helensburgh on the Clyde estuary. This provided motorists with the option to pay for parking online using a smartphone or a computer.
Following its immediate success, the system has been extended to cover all of the Council’s Pay and Display car parks in Arrochar, Dunoon, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Luss, Mull, Oban and Rothesay. Motorists using the easy to use self-serve system not only have the benefit of cashless payment at the touch of a button, but also the option of text reminders. Once registered, regular users can also just text to park or to extend their parking period and families can register any number of cars or mobile phones on theiraccount.
Significantly, PaySmarti integrates seamlessly with Imperial’s 3sixty back office management system and the company’s comprehensive permit management system, to provide the authority with a comprehensive end-to-end solution for parking and permits.
Argyll and Bute’s Amenity Wardens now carry out their enforcement duties on Samsung smartphones fitted with Imperial’s Rialto software, which provides real-time access on the 4G network to the back office database to check permit validity and parking payments for any parked vehicle. Further patrol efficiencies have resulted from the introduction of Imperial’s ScanSmarti. This has eliminated the need for manual input of vehicle registration numbers, as all parked vehicles are now scanned during a routine patrol with any contraventions identified automatically.
Following the success of PaySmarti in the Council’s Pay and Display car parks, the authority has now extended its use to cover all Pay and Display on-street parking. And, according Imperial’s Doug Woodhouse, the introduction of cashless parking is making a very real difference to local businesses. “Paying for parking is now not only much more convenient for visitors and residents alike, it’s also much easier for motorists to extend their stay which can only be good news for local businesses right across the region. We’re delighted the Council has wasted no time in capitalising on the new capabilities for both on- and off-street parking bays.”
“The new parking and permit management solutions have truly transformed our activities,” adds Tennant. “And, we’re continuing to exploit new service options and will soon be introducing Imperial’s intelligent letter-writing module LetterSmarti. The company’s new ChallengeSmarti system for simplifying and improving the process of challenging PCNs is also currently undergoing User Acceptance Testing and is due for introduction in the next few months.
“There is no denying that mobile network limitations posed considerable frustration in our commitment to maximise service standards. But, we have done more than just play catch up. With Imperial’s help and its integrated service solutions, we have been able to take full advantage of the latest technologies. The benefits for local people have been immediate, but I’m sure such steps will also prove very popular with the huge number of tourists and hill walkers who visit the area during the peak holiday season.”
Imperial helps Parking Control Management to maximise service standards for clients
A long-standing partnership with Imperial is continuing to provide Parking Control Management (PCM) with the support and specialist software to help the company maintain its impressive record for service development. The company is now extending its use of Imperial’s cashless parking system and planning to introduce the enforcement specialist’s automated correspondence system for improving service efficiencies as well as its graphic mapping tools to maximise the effectiveness of parking attendant deployment.
“Our growth as a specialist in effective car park management reflects our commitment to be a reliable and focussed service partner for our clients,” says Andrew Oliver, Head of UK Operations at PCM. “But, our continued success has also been founded on adhering to the strict Codes of Practice provided by the IPC and working closely with key suppliers who share our principles of partnership and responsiveness. Indeed, the support provided by Imperial continues to play an instrumental role in helping us to provide our clients with the most effective cost-neutral enforcement solution for their parking facilities.”
PCM’s relationship with Imperial began when the company moved from immobilisation to ticket-based enforcement as a result of legislative changes for parking on private land introduced by the Government in 2012. Harnessing Imperial’s many years of experience in PCN (Parking Charge Notice) processing, PCM completed a radical overhaul of its operation in response to the new regulations. This included full training of patrol attendants and back-office staff, the introduction of new processing technology and the replacement of over 0.5 million car park signs at all client car parks.
By capitalising on hosted software systems as well as the training resources and expertise of Imperial’s Business Processing Unit in Northampton, the company was able to take the changes in its stride and maintain its focus on enforcement actions to meet the specific parking requirements of each client.
Today, PCM manages no less than 3,000 different permit parking schemes for residential and commercial sites and restricted parking areas right across the UK. Its openly tough approach for ensuring compliance with the parking requirements of its clients has proved to be particularly effective in densely populated metropolitan areas, where only authorised users and permit holders have access to limited parking facilities.
This approach has enabled the company to consolidate its position as one of the country’s leading residential car park management operations, with recent contracts including EcoWorld Ballymore’s London City Island near Canary Wharf. It is also providing tailored car park control schemes for a wide range of commercial, leisure and retail developments, where there is a clear requirement to minimise the internal or external abuse of parking spaces and ensure the valid use of disabled parking bays.
The company is now working with Imperial to further extend the services it provides. The introduction of Imperial’s cashless parking module, PaySmarti, has proved particularly effective where clients require payment for visitor parking in permit controlled areas. And, to minimise risks in the PCN appeals process and provide considered and compliant responses to motorists, the company is now preparing to introduce LetterSmarti. This move will improve the efficiency and consistency of outgoing correspondence. Keen to capitalise on real-time intelligence and tracking to identify parking abuse hotspots and optimise the effectiveness of the deployment of parking attendants, PCM is also set to adopt Imperial’s graphic mapping tool,GeoSmarti.
“To provide the best possible service for clients, the onus is on every service provider to harness the latest tools and advances in new technologies,” adds Rob Gilder PCM’s New Business Manager. “The experience of Imperial and its software systems developed specifically for enforcement applications has been invaluable – especially as we look to extend our service capabilities into new markets. The introduction of new software systems is not only helping to improve our operational agility and efficiencies, but is also providing further reassurance of our service commitment to both existing and new clients.”
Imperial – Illegal use of bus lanes is not the way for Essex motorists
Faced with a growing population and continuing increase in traffic on the roads, Essex County Council’s Highways team is extending its use of bus lane CCTV enforcement to improve the reliability of public transport and the safety of pedestrians in busy urban areas. The move follows the appointment of Imperial at the end of 2016, which has led to a marked increase in motorists complying with bus lane regulations and a dramatic improvement in back office efficiencies.
“We are now benefitting from Imperial’s knowledge, experience and wholehearted commitment to work in partnership with both ourselves and our CCTV camera supplier,” says Andy Champ, Network Operations Manager at Essex Highways.
“From the outset, Imperial’s insight and professional guidance improved the effectiveness of our existing bus lane enforcement operations in Colchester, Basildon and Chelmsford. And we have worked with Imperial to develop plans for further enforcement initiatives in other locations within the county’s main urban areas. These include two additional sites in east Colchester where there is genuine justification to address accessibility and safety issues around key public areas and transport interchanges like Hythe railway station.”
As well as advising and supporting the authority with a review of its cancellation policies and new arrangements for reviewing contraventions, the team at Imperial’s Business Processing Unit in Northampton handles customer calls relating to Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), PCN correspondence, scanning, postage and PCN payments. Imperial’s 3sixty software is used for all back office processing and the enforcement solutions feature unattended ANPR cameras and review software provided by SEA.
“Dedicated, resilient and versatile back office procedures and systems are absolutely essential for effective and efficient bus lane enforcement,” emphasises Imperial’s Toby Bliss.
“The volume of contraventions is always difficult to forecast after the initial period of warning notices, but it’s important to cater for all eventualities as well as fluctuating volumes at different times of the week and year. Careful preparations are also vital – not only to guarantee operational efficiency and to maximise compliance levels, but also to achieve optimum payment recovery and to minimise the administrative demands of unwarranted appeals. Such a considered approach helps an authority like Essex Highways to adopt a progressive approach to bus lane enforcement with confidence and assurance.”
Hayley Street, Senior Operations Technician at Essex Highways, adds: “Although it was a daunting prospect to change processes and IT support systems at the same time, it was evident at a very early stage that our new partnership with Imperial was delivering benefits.
But it wasn’t just a case of efficiency and operational improvements as we now have much greater resilience and versatility in all areas of our bus lane enforcement operation.”
The concerted approach to enforcement has helped to address the misuse of bus lanes in the county’s main towns, which can cause punctuality problems for public transport and safety concerns for pedestrians. Prior to the introduction of CCTV enforcement, there were well over 400 bus lane contraventions every day in a major bottleneck in Duke Street, adjacent to Chelmsford’s busy railway station. The number of contraventions fell by 50% during the period when warning notices were issued and has continued to fall since the issue of Penalty Charge Notices so buses are no longer suffering unnecessary delays.
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Imperial secures new contract as it is confirmed as one of the country’s top GovTech companies
Independent endorsement, new contract gains and new service developments have seen Imperial continue to consolidate its position as one of the most progressive service providers in the UK GovTech market. With the UK leading the way in government digitisation, an influential report published by Public has listed the Bristol-based company as one of the Top 100 most influential specialist companies in a market that is estimated will be worth in excess of £20billion by 2025.
Newcastle City Council is the latest authority to confirm a new contract with Imperial, and the Council’s Service Manager Parking Services, Craig Mordue says the Council is delighted to be working with one of the country’s most respected GovTech companies.
“We’ve worked with Imperial for more than ten years and are not surprised the company has received independent confirmation of the influential role it continues to play in service transformation within local authorities. The company’s expertise, products and services have certainly helped us to harness new technologies for maximising our operational efficiencies in the processing of more than 70,000 Penalty Charge Notices a year.
“The new contract we have now signed with the company will see the introduction of new smartphone technologies fitted with Rialto software for our team of 80 Civil Enforcement Officers. But, we’re also looking forward to working with the company to introduce other technology-led improvements and self-serve functionality in the areas of notice processing, bus lane enforcement and the introduction of virtual permits. Naturally, we’re pleased to be continuing our very effective partnership with Imperial. The company has not only shown value for money in the recent tendering process, but has also demonstrated an ongoing commitment to service innovation and proven product reliability over many years.”
Newcastle City Council’s new contract with Imperial is for an initial period of five years, with the option for two further extensions.
Imperial is continuing to develop its comprehensive suite of software systems, consultancy and back office processing services to maximise the efficiencies of local authority civil enforcement operations and to support broader smart city objectives. And, in partnership with Videalert, it is now also playing a pioneering role in delivering practical and effective permit solutions and incentives to support the successful implementation of Clean Air Zones.
Imperial’s inclusion in ‘The State of the UK GovTech Market’ report from Public, the specialist GovTech venture capital and research group, is consistent with the company’s growing stature as a service transformation partner in civil enforcement and traffic management as well as outsourced back office services. The report provides “the most comprehensive review of the country’s GovTech service providers published to date”.
Highlighting the sector’s dramatic growth and new opportunities for digital service transformation, the report’s Top 100 list was compiled to highlight the positive impact a company has had on public services, as well as its leadership, structure, size and track record for innovation.
Led by ex-deputy head of the No.10 policy unit, Daniel Korski, and venture investor, Alexander de Carvalho, Public’s team focuses on technology-led service transformation in the public sector and has operational experience across government, start-ups, technology and finance.
Imperial’s Toby Bliss (left) with Craig Mordue, Service Manager Parking Services at Newcastle City Council