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Now is The Time for Strategic Decision Making in Parking

Traffic rates have temporarily slowed, but parking management doesn’t stop 

Enforced lockdown is having a dramatic impact on our towns and cities. By early April, road travel in the UK fell by almost 75% year-on-year. In terms of traffic, it takes the country back to the 1950s. In terms of air quality, early research shows carbon monoxide emissions are half 2019 levels.

These astonishing falls — just two of the unintended consequences of our collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic — pose a couple of questions for those responsible for transport management, and parking in particular.

First, why worry about enforcement when vehicle activity is so low? Second, why not defer all strategic decision making and future planning until the crisis is over? Let me address these questions in turn and explain why now is both the right time for action in the short-term and an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate policy and process for the medium- and long-term. 

Why worry about enforcement when vehicle activity is so low?

Let’s address the current situation first. Parking management doesn’t stop because traffic is down to immediate post WWII levels. Parking management — alongside public transport provision, checks on speeding, and keeping bus lanes clear — remains vital in times of crisis, perhaps more so. Keeping the arteries of our towns and cities clear so those working in essential services can get to where they need to be in a safe and timely manner really does matter. Parking has a central role to play in ensuring appropriate spaces are available for key workers and emergency services.

At Conduent Transportation, our teams are playing their part. They are assisting clients through the remote management of print and mail fulfilment, notice processing, scanning and indexing, and the review of CCTV cases. Providing such support allows local authorities and other clients to focus on their response to the crisis in the round, redeploying staff to COVID-19 related activity, as appropriate.

Where Conduent Transportation provides a complete hosted infrastructure, our clients are receiving full support as part of their business continuity plan. That means a tried-and-trusted transition to home working, and implementing changes that support a reduced service while minimising the service impact.

Parking management may not be popular but, when done fairly, it becomes a critical component of good transportation policy. Non-compliant parkers, after all, take up scarce space, exacerbate congestion, and create dangerous conditions. In the current crisis, the last in this list takes on new meaning.  

Why not defer all strategic decision making and future planning until the crisis is over?

Given our current limitations and challenges, it is easy to fall into the trap of simply getting through the crisis day to day. However, now is an opportune moment to think about operations as a whole and to work out how to find value for the long term. Now is the time to evaluate how resource-intensive processes can, instead, be data-led. Standing still is costly. Resist the temptation to wait.

Parking management is a measurable activity with measurable outcomes, and cities owe it to their citizens to analyse the data. At Conduent Transportation, we provide cities with dashboards that help managers understand the impact of parking management. Not only whether the deployment of staff is being administered equitably and whether tickets are issued accurately but, crucially, supporting the delivery of a more effective, efficient and consistent service for all. These are goals supported by the Positive Parking Agenda, set up by a pioneering group of English local authorities in order to build public confidence in the parking sector.

By studying the data, we can gain real insight into the effectiveness of parking programmes. This mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics can be used, in turn, to reward performance and to train personnel.

How Conduent Transportation helps its clients plan for the future

Conduent Transportation works with cities to provide the integration of new technology and different datasets to support their operation. When creating deployment plans, we help clients develop variable shift start and end times which ensures appropriate coverage rather than a fixed headcount throughout the day. By comparing the distribution of staff to the capture rates per hour, we can determine the probability of compliance across a day. These analytics — often a combination of historical data like penalty charge notice issuance trends, parking payments, data proxies, and predictive algorithms — help reduce congestion and dwell time in finding spaces, while improving air quality. They also play a part in increasing productivity by providing better information to field-based staff.

We will not know the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for some time but now is not the time to park up. At Conduent Transportation, we believe it is important to continue to help both our clients and the industries that we support by providing the services required. For the sake of local communities, the wider economy, and our essential services, now is the time for collective action.


About the Author

Chris Newman is UK Regional Director for Conduent’s parking business. He has 13 years’ experience in parking, working on many high-profile projects in the UK. Chris started in the Conduent technical team and progressed to his position today through gaining experience in issue resolution, client management and configuration of system deployments before stepping into Project Management and operations management.