Case study: Upwardly mobile

24 Oct 2005

Since February a quiet revolution has swept the serried ranks of harassed holiday-makers and businesspeople, giving them peace of mind as well as improving business processes within QuickPark, which manages some 3,750 car spaces at Dublin Airport.

QuickPark is the brainchild of Aircoach founder John O’Sullivan and is a unique collaboration between QuickPark, mobile operator O2 and mobile software firm Textus.
It has resulted in the world’s first web-to-mobile parking solution. “Business has increased tenfold since we began this service in February,” says O’Sullivan.

Dublin City University-based firm Textus built the software that enables the online interactivity, the management information system and also the hardware devices at the airport terminals. The devices are called PIN-park keypads and have built-in O2 SIM cards that allow users to key-in their own unique parking code.

Every day up to 1,000 cars are parked at QuickPark’s car park at Dublin Airport and, according to general manager Anne Smith, it is not always possible to guarantee everyone who arrives a parking space. “If people book online they are guaranteed a parking space,” she explains, adding that already 40pc of people that park in the company’s car park do so online.

Damien Gallagher, business portfolio manager at O2, explains: “It removes cash from the system and enables the airport to analyse the traffic and movement of cars arriving at the airport at any particular time. The technology works by users entering their name and email address on the QuickPark website and registering their credit card details. A text message is then sent back to the user over the O2 network verifying the credit card details and the PIN code. When customers arrive at the airport they key in their PIN code at the PIN-park keypad on the way into the QuickPark car park.”

According to Smith, the service allows travellers to prebook their car space online at by using their credit card and is cheaper at €5 a day compared to the standard charge of €8 at Dublin Airport.

“This is one of the first mobile and web projects in the world that integrates with coin machines,” said Textus CEO and founder Paul Mooney. “If someone hasn’t paid or if they have no credit the keypad won’t open the barrier so they would have to go to the office and pay in cash. At present we are talking to all the major parking players in Ireland as well as potential implementations in the US. Worldwide some US$40bn is spent on parking. A significant portion of the coin-based revenue goes missing every year. This solution allows vendors to streamline payments. We are moving inevitably in the direction of the cashless car park.”

Mooney’s colleague, marketing manager Brian Hannon, agreed: “This allows parking operators to streamline their operational systems and process online payments in real-time. It removes the need for paper and coin systems through the use of machine-to-machine technology.”

Smith emphasised the obvious security benefits of this. “Because it’s all electronic, we are seeing a reduction in the amount of cash we have to handle and therefore feel more secure.

“By next year we envisage web bookings to go from 40pc of all bookings to 80pc or 90pc. Customers feel secure and are guaranteed a parking space,” she concludes.

Pictured are: Damien Gallagher, business portfolio manager at O2, John O’Sullivan, managing director of QuickPark, and Brian Hannon, marketing manager at Textus

By John Kennedy