Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Prankster at Parking World - the end of parking as we know it

The Prankster was recently invited to attend Parking World 2014 where he was able to mingle with industry names such as Patrick Troy, Chief Executive of the BPA, and Henry Greenslade, Lead Adjudicator of POPLA.

Among the many interesting presentations was one by John Siraut, technical director of economics at Jacobs. Mr Siraut predicted the end of parking charges due to self-driving cars. At the point when they become commonplace, predatory parking practices will no longer be possible. The car will avoid charges by not parking where it is not allowed, and will simply leave the car park when the time expires, returning later to pick up the passengers. Expensive car parks will become a thing of the past. Cars will either return home, or drive to a cheaper car park. The Prankster continues Mr Siraut's theme by predicting that car park management models will have to change from the predatory model adopted by companies like ParkingEye, where their only income is from parking charges. Instead, the car park company will charge a management fee. Luckily for Capita, who purchased ParkingEye for £57.5 million, Mr Siraut predicted that self-driving cars still have some way to go to become a reality, and we are perhaps 30 years away.

There were also several interesting exhibitors. The Prankster saw an innovative approach to community bicycles, whereby any bicycle can be converted to a community bike by providing a GPS enabled lock.

The Prankster also chatted about ANPR technology with several vendors. One problem with ANPR is that because it is not perfect, motorists can be charged for overstaying when in fact they made two visits. This occurs either when the numberplate is not read correctly, or when the system is misconfigured.

The vendors explained that there are no real civil standards for ANPR for car park enforcement. There is a police standard, NATIONAL ACPO ANPR STANDARDS (available here). This only requires accuracy of 91.1% for static cameras, which means almost 1 in 10 reads will be wrong. However, there is no way for officially getting any civil system certified to say it complies with this standard.

There are no civil standards for camera accuracy, so operators can say with a straight face that their cameras comply to the BPA standards, without this actually meaning anything.

In practice, it was explained to The Prankster, accuracy will also depend on conditions. On a sunny day, glare will heavily affect results, and even more so for infra-red cameras. Rear number plates are also more prone to read errors, as they are often dirtier.

Camera position is also important. The camera should not read vehicles as they come round a bend, but after they have straightened up. The camera should also be high enough to minimise blocked reads due to tailgating, while low enough not to get misreads from skew.

Cameras can also become misaligned, so they no longer cover the whole road, which means that some vehicles may be missed.

All in all it was an interesting conference, which The Prankster finished off by meeting Prankster Jr nearby, where he was featuring in a nearby art gallery.

Parking World is curated by Mark Moran of Parking Review

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

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