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Greenfield will have an easier way to pay for parking

  • Dan Desrochers/Recorder Staff



Recorder Staff
Friday, June 15, 2018

GREENFIELD — Do you ever park at a meter only to find that you don’t have change? Soon, the city will have an app for that.

Visitors and residents looking for parking in the city will soon be able to use their smart phone to pay for parking in the city. The program is expected to debut in September and will allow visitors to pay for parking through either a mobile application or on a website provided by Passport Labs Inc., a North Carolina parking and transit software company.

The new program will not change costs or current parking options, but will add a more convenient way to pay for parking, according to city Communications and Constituent Services Coordinator Lindsay Rowe.

The program’s mobile application will be available for download on both Android and Apple smartphones, but users can opt to use a website to pay for parking.

Rowe said when people come to park in Greenfield, each spot in the city will be within a designated zone that can be found on the application or website. Stickers on parking meters and signs will tell users what zone they are in.

Users will use the application or the website to choose the zone they are parked in and will enter personal information, including license plate number and credit card information, to pay for the spot for a maximum amount of time based on the zone. Users can choose to be notified on their cell phones when their parking spot’s time is about to expire and can pay for more time in the spot up to the maximum.

The information will be sent to the network using existing cell phone technology.

Mike Mohler, project manager from Passport, said information can be saved on the system for repeated use and that the information is kept “highly secure” based on the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, an independent council that helps and determines safety and security standards for financial institutions and software companies.

Mohler said the program will use a “two-step verification for the device you sign in on,” including sending a confirmation code via email or text to the user.

Users can also choose to use Passport’s Wallet feature to prepay an amount to be used for parking.

New devices

With the program, the city will need to purchase new technology for parking enforcement officers. What devices will be purchased has not been confirmed, but Rowe said the city is looking to buy five Android-based cellular devices with portable Bluetooth printers.

These devices will connect to the software to provide real-time updates to customers and parking enforcement officers.

The devices are estimated to cost up to $850 each, with a data plan for each device estimated at less than $65 a month, according to Rowe.

She said the devices will replace five being used right now by parking enforcement and police. The devices and the program now being used are considered obsolete by Police Chief Robert Haigh and Rowe.

“The program we’re using now is rather outdated. It’s not very user-friendly,” Haigh said. “The new system will be a lot more based off our needs.”

Haigh said among the outdated aspects of the program is that any citations or other information from the devices must be downloaded at the end of the shift and a separate computer has to be used for the software due to its antiquity.

According to Rowe, the current devices need to be replaced, which will cost $2,500 each.

She said the costs to cover the devices and services will come from the police’s parking enforcement budget. Haigh said the department currently pays between $34,000 and $39,000 a year for its program. He said the cost could go down with the new technology but was unsure how much.

Ease of use

With the new program, users will have access to real-time information, including citations and pictures taken of the offense.

Currently, offenders cannot see photographic evidence of why they were ticketed until after they appeal.

“This will actually show violations and ask if they wish to continue with the appeal. You will get to see the evidence of the ticket,” Haigh said.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of appeals and improve accuracy of citation issuance,” Rowe said.

And while people using the system to park can receive notifications of when their parking spot time is about to expire, Mohler said the program will not notify law enforcement of an expiring parking spot.

Users can also use the app to pay for parking in other cities where it is utilized, including Springfield, Hartford and cities around Boston.

You can reach
Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257