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Cocoa Beach installs mobile-only parking payment program to save money

August 6, 2012

Cocoa Beach visitors can pay for parking via mobileThe town of Cocoa Beach in Florida is implementing a mobile-only parking payment program to meet the needs of tourists while keeping costs down.

The public parking program does not offer any cash option or parking equipment. Payment for parking can only be done via the ParkNow! mobile app or by calling a local number from their mobile phones.

“For those who are visitors to Cocoa Beach, they are a demographic that uses mobile for a lot of purposes already and this accommodates that demographic really well,” Amie Devero, president of Solutions 4 Cities.

“Cities are struggling to deal with budget issues,” she said. “Traditional parking like meters has a significant cost to the cities, for equipment, maintenance and manpower.

“The mobile payment method is entirely cloud-based, the technology itself has no cost to the city at all so it is a significant savings for taxpayers. The only cost has been painting roads, putting up signs and purchasing smartphones for parking enforcement officers — everything else is paid for by vendors or by a customer convenience fee.”

Solutions 4 Cities is a consultant working with the city to implement the mobile payments program.

Paid parking zone
Approximately 200 formerly free, non-metered spaces in downtown are being converted to paid parking for anyone without a parking permit to insure that beachgoers do not fill up the downtown parking spots that are meant for visitors to local restaurants, bars, shops and other businesses.

The mobile payments program is also being applied to 30 metered spots and will roll out to additional metered spots in the future.

Since no meters currently exist at the formerly free spots, Cocoa Beach – by using mobile – is able to create a paid parking zone without the need to invest in additional equipment, maintenance or installation.  This keeps the cost to the town and taxpayers to a minimum.

Anyone without a parking permit will have to use their mobile phone to pay for parking at one of the 200 spots or look for a metered parking spots around town.

To pay for parking, users can download the free ParkNow! app for the iPhone or Android phones and provide  either a credit or debit card number. Then users scan the QR code on the meter or sign for that space or enter the space number on the curb and indicate how long they would like to park.

App users can also choose to have reminder text messages sent to alert them that time is about to run out and needs to be extended. Users can extend the time without having to go back to their car to feed the meter.

Users pay a fee of $.30 to park or extend their parking and $.10 for reminder text messages

The ParkNow! service is offered by MobileNow!.

Enforcement made easy
The system automatically updates handheld parking enforcement devices used by parking officers so they can whether or not a space has been paid for.

Visitors are being made aware of the program via decals and signs where the spaces are available.

Those who do not have an iPhone or Android phone can pre-register by going to the Web site, www.ParkNow!.US, and creating an account. Then they call the posted local phone number to start a parking session.

The ParkNow! system will automatically detect the cell phone being used and the account that goes with it. All the user has to do is indicate how long they want to park for.

“Mobile payments for parking is all over the country – it is spreading faster than you can imagine. This is the only city that has a mobile-only payment program,” Ms. Devero said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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