German car park operator APCOA Parking AG has won the European Parking Association’s (EPA) 2019 Innovation Award for the rollout of an ALPR-based (Automatic License Plate Recognition) parking management system in Norway.
Established by the organization as a biennial award for excellence in parking, the EPA Awards are designed to set standards, demonstrate the high quality of parking structures and services and to encourage operators to provide good services throughout Europe. Presented during the 19th EPA Congress in Malaga, Spain, APCOA won the Award in the ‘Innovative schemes in parking’ category for its deployment of a license plate-based management system that provides a seamless customer journey connected to the company’s innovative Flow app and loyalty program. In April 2017, APCOA Parking Norway started one of the largest rollouts of an ALPR-based parking management system in Europe. Since then the system has been implemented at 104 off-street parking locations including car parks at 30 airports across Norway, with further locations currently being equipped with the technology.
The new system was primarily introduced to offer customers a faster and more convenient parking experience, but also to reduce the amount of parking hardware required for cost reasons and to optimize revenues. The system is also seen as a long-term investment to future-proof the company’s sites for autonomous driving and parking. To make full use of the system, customers download APCOA’s Flow app and register a user profile including their credit card data. The app can navigate the driver to the chosen APCOA site. The customer enters the car park seamlessly without stopping at a barrier or buying a ticket. Instead, ALPR cameras detect the license plate and the parking session is started, with the customer receiving a notification on their smartphone. When exiting the car park, ALPR cameras again detect the plate and the session is ended. The customer again receives a notification via smartphone and payment happens automatically. In case of any issues, a customer service center is permanently available.
Payment can also be made without the download of an app and registration, as the ALPR system detects the plate and puts it on a ‘whitelist’. Before leaving the car park, payment is completed at a cash/card machine by entering the license plate details. If payment at the payment machine is forgotten, late payment can be made online within 48 hours. After that period an invoice is sent including an administrational fee, ensuring that no customer needs to receive a fine.
“Removing barrier systems, P&D (pay-and-display) machines as well as traffic islands and introducing new payment methods has significantly improved the user experience,” said Rune Feltman, managing director of APCOA Parking Norway. “Customers benefit from a constant traffic flow and a ticketless entry and exit as well as automatic payment. So no time is wasted anymore queuing in front of the barrier for tickets or at the payment machine, and exposure to harsh weather condition at surface car parks is minimized.”