Monday, 30 July 2012

CP Plus’ guide to the Safer Parking Scheme

If you leave your vehicle in a public car park, you want to make sure that it will still be there on your return. Because no-one wants to deal with the stress and expense of having their car stolen, it’s best to look for car parks which display the Safer Parking Scheme’s sign, known as ‘Park Mark’. A number of parking management companies in the UK, such as CP Plus support this scheme and have the sign displayed in all of their public car parks.

If you see this sign, you’ll know that the car park company have made security a priority, and have taken a number of measures to prevent any criminal activity from occurring in their car parks. The implementation of better management practices and design changes, which are a part of the Safer Parking Scheme, has been shown by studies conducted by the Home Office to reduce crimes occurring in car parks by more than 80%.

This scheme is part of an initiative by the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers), and aims to allay the fears of drivers who need to park, and are concerned about car theft and other crimes. The Park Mark sign is only awarded to parking facilities which have been carefully assessed and have met all of the requirements as set out by the Scheme’s policy. Meeting these requirements means that the parking company has done everything that they can to ensure that criminals and those behaving in an anti-social manner are deterred.

The scheme was initially only available in certain car parks; however its policies were changed and now it is run in such a way that it is accessible to a wide variety of car parks, including hospital parking facilities, commercial parking lots, residential and retail car parks. The ACPO decided to move from a design-led philosophy to a more risk-based one, so that parking management companies would have more options when it came to safety measures for reducing the risk of criminal incidents occurring.

Some of the criteria which the Park Mark parking facilities must meet include having appropriate and sufficient lighting, having effective surveillance, in the form of CCTV and ANPR, installed and ensuring that the facilities are clean and well maintained. CP Plus say that being awarded the Park Mark sign demonstrates to motorists using the car park that the parking management company is committed to keeping users of the facilities safe, and have taken effective steps to prevent crime.

Currently the Safer Parking Scheme is supported by a number of organisations within the UK, including the BPA (British Parking Association, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Home Office.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

An introduction to car park management technology from CP Plus

An introduction to car park management technology from CP Plus

There are a number of new technologies which have made the smooth running of car parks far easier in recent years; two of the most notable of which are the ANPR system, and online and mobile payment methods implemented by the parking management company CP Plus. 

ANPR stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition; this is a type of technology which is used by many car park management companies. It was first developed in the seventies in the UK and since then has been successfully used for things like checking speeds, and keeping track of which vehicles have paid their parking fees in car parks. 

This technology uses software known as optical character recognition, in order to scan the licence plate of a vehicle. ANPR was quite rudimentary when it was first developed however today it is extremely accurate, and very effective in helping parking management companies like CP Plus to run their operations. 

CP Plus created their own specialist ANPR system a number of years ago, when hospital parking fees were abolished and they needed a new way to manage the demand for parking spaces, so that commuters and shoppers would not take up space needed by patients and staff at the hospitals. This was how the ANPR system came about; cars in these car parks are registered by this automotive recognition software when they enter, and if that car does not exit the car park after a specified amount of time, an automatic alert is then delivered to the ANPR ‘buggy’, a miniature vehicle which the patrolling officer can drive around the car park. The officer can then take the buggy to the offending vehicle, where the ANPR system installed in the buggy will scan the licence plate and print out a parking ticket fine. This made things far less labour intensive for the parking officers, saving time and resources which could then be directed into running the car park more efficiently. 

In terms of how to pay these fines, as well as pre-paying for standard parking fees, CP Plus and other parking management companies now offer several different ways to pay, which make life easier for everyone involved. Online payment is undoubtedly the most popular payment method; using a web portal for pre-payments, drivers can now pay in advance for their parking, saving themselves a significant amount of time. Another convenient method favoured by many drivers is mobile payment, either by calling up a specified number and paying by credit card, or for Smartphone users, using a web app and scanning their phone as they enter the car park.