Columbus’ ‘virtual permit’ scheme wins parking innovation award


The Parking Services Division for the City of Columbus in Ohio has won an Innovative Organization of the Year Award by the USA’s National Parking Association (NPA) for a major project to manage supply and demand, improve customer service, and increase revenue.

Presented last week at the NPA’s Annual Convention and Expo in Orlando, Florida, the award recognizes Columbus’ successful application of innovative new technology for parking in the city’s popular Short North Arts District, close to downtown. The Parking Services Division partnered with Conduent Transportation, ParkMobile and Genetec on the Short North Parking Plan Expansion program that helps the city increase parking availability and streamline the permitting process for citizens. Conduent helped to develop a ‘virtual parking permit’ program for the city, in which residents easily assign guest passes online and visitors claim spaces by using a validation code via the ParkColumbus app, powered by ParkMobile. The convenient new system also streamlines the permit application process and gives customers the ability to manage their account online. The system enables enforcement officials to quickly and efficiently check compliance using Genetec’s license plate recognition (LPR) technology.

The city also set up mobile-pay parking zones in the district that greatly reduced the need for meters cluttering the kerbside and, in conjunction with Conduent’s virtual permit solution, allowed the spaces to flex between residential permit and mobile-pay. As a result, Short North now has more than 5,000 paid parking spaces that customers can pay for using their mobile phones, compared to just 680 single spaces that were controlled by meters. Since the Short North virtual permitting program began early this year, more than 13,500 permits have been issued and more than 51,000 license plates have been read by enforcement officers, resulting in a 90% compliance rate. Through electronically submitted applications, the city receives more timely and accurate data to help officials make informed decisions about parking rates and policies.

Winner of the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus is reinvesting funds from Parking Services Division’s successful program directly into new Short North mobility initiatives and the Short North Alliance has been able to hire a full-time mobility professional to spearhead much-needed projects in the community.

The City of Columbus Parking Services Division’s assistant director, Robert Ferrin, said, “We place a high value on providing accessible, equitable and predictable mobility and parking solutions, and we found a partner in Conduent to help us innovate in the Short North Arts District and preserve the uniqueness of the neighbourhood.”

Mark Brewer, president of global public sector solutions at Conduent, said, “Columbus understands the importance of effective kerbside management and how technologies can improve the transportation experience for citizens. This award demonstrates how our innovative parking team helped the city to increase parking availability by more than 700% while streamlining the permitting process. This is the second consecutive year that a program supported by Conduent has received the award. Last year, the District Department of Transportation’s ParkDC was named 2018 Innovative Organization of the Year for its work with us to improve on-street parking in Washington DC.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.