Irish firm deploys mobile parking Down Under

5 Mar 2004

Dublin mobile software firm Itsmobile has signed a deal with the North Sydney Council to deploy what is so far the largest rollout of a mobile phone payment system for parking. This latest deal builds on the company’s success in deploying mobile parking solutions in Dublin and Edinburgh.

According to Itsmobile operations director Donal McGuinness the rollout of his company’s mPark mobile parking payment service will enable motorists in the North Sydney area, the city’s principal business district, to pay for on-street parking using their mobile phones on any of the Australian networks.

North Sydney Council is the first city council in Australia to rollout mobile payments on a full commercial basis across its entire network of 381 parking meters, making it the largest of its kind in the world.

Just like the Itsmobile mobile parking payment service deployed in Dublin and Edinburgh, motorists call a local number after parking their car. Voice prompts ask the user for the parking meter’s ID number, displayed on the parking meter, which the motorist keys into his or her mobile phone. Next, the motorist is asked to key in their bay number and the amount of money they wish to spend. An encrypted message is sent to the parking meter, activating it with a personalised greeting and crediting the motorist’s parking space with time corresponding to the amount paid. To use the service, motorists register at a designated website and can have their parking fees charged to their American Express, Visa or MasterCard credit cards. In the future, it is expected that motorists will have the option to charge parking to their mobile phone accounts, fuel cards and road toll accounts.

Itsmobile provides mobile payment and transaction solutions to a range of industries. The company’s industry solutions are built on its Emporia Transaction Server, a high volume, multi-channel, cross platform transaction processing server which supports multiple billing options. For example, the company’s technology was used to power the voting engine at the Meteor Music Awards earlier this week. The company’s technology is also used to process admissions at the Star Century cinema in Dublin, which admits more than 2m a year to movies.

According to McGuinness, the contract with North Sydney Council was signed in November, following a pilot in September and was fully deployed in January. “In February we logged some 3,000 people registering onto the system which indicates that it is enjoying a rapid uptake. From our figures, the average motorist spends around AUS$5 per transaction,” he said.

North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffery said: “This is a major innovation for motorists, making the use of parking meters much more convenient and user-friendly. More flexible payment options also mean an improved service and hopefully, better turnover of parking spaces which are already at a premium in North Sydney.”

McGuinness told that Itsmobile is in talks to expand its mobile parking platform to other cities around the world and that a significant European country-wide deal is imminent.

Internationally, the company is swiftly gaining renown for its payment system deployments and last month Itsmobile’s mPark software won the Innovation System of the Year prize at the British Parking Awards for its rollout in Edinburgh, where some 250 pay-and-display machines have been kitted out with the technology.

By John Kennedy