Ericsson and Hull City Council bring Cashless Parking to Hull via Mobile Phone 


Ericsson and Hull City Council have launched an innovative scheme that enables local citizens to pay for car parking in the city simply and conveniently, using their mobile phones. Believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the trial scheme was launched in April 2002. Lasting for approximately six months, the trial will involve up to 200 local citizens.

The scheme is an example of how new mobile technology is increasingly being used to make aspects of people's daily lives easier to manage. The Cashless Parking scheme automates the payment process, eliminating the need to carry money. The scheme can also be used by car park attendants to send messages to drivers to alert them when parking fees are about to expire.

Ericsson, which is as the forefront of developing the next generation of mobile services, has packaged all elements of the mobile parking solution and is providing project management and integration with the third parties involved. The Cashless Parking solution also fits in with Hull's mission to become one of Europe's top 10 Digital Cities by 2005, as benchmarked by the EU.

How cashless parking works

When entering one of the 10 surface car parks within the pilot project, users contact the Cashless Parking system in one of two ways: via their mobile by contacting a spoken language command system or via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). In either case, users are guided through a simple and short menu of questions, such as user number, car registration and intended duration of stay. Payment is then authorised via a third party clearing house system and the total amount due is deducted from the user's account.

The Council also benefits from more flexible, real time parking management. Car Park Attendants carry Ericsson R380 WAP-enabled mobile phones, enabling them to instantly check on the validity and status of any of the cars within the scheme. Attendants can also send drivers SMS messages if, for example, they have left car windows open or a car alarm has been activated. By sending SMS messages when parking time is about to expire, the Council can also reduce the costs and administration involved in issuing parking fines. Drivers also do not need to return to their cars to purchase a new ticket it can be done remotely simply by pressing a few keys on the mobile phone or using the voice activated service.

Ian Crookham, Chief Executive for the City Council, said this was yet one more innovative project within a package of initiatives to make Hull a Top 10 Digital City. "We want to pilot this scheme with Ericsson and Vodafone because it offers quality and convenience to our customers in their everyday life, which is what Digital City is all about. More and more people have mobile phones today. Although there will always be a cash alternative for those who don't have them, this is an exciting new way of offering payment options to a growing number of customers. And this model could easily be transferred to other paid services.

"Hull City Council continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing new innovative and top quality services to their customers", says Jim Wadsworth Group Product Manager, Vodafone UK, sponsors of the pilot scheme. "Vodafone is positioned to play a primary role in this new mobile services world. We have a vision for what we want to achieve and we are working actively with customers to provide more services and more value to more people than ever before."

Jim Trotter, Ericsson Development Manager for Applications said, "The Hull Cashless Parking scheme shows how developments in mobile technology not only enable us to communicate more effectively with one another, but can simplify the management of everyday tasks. This is just one example of a range of 'person-to-machine' applications that new mobile services will allow."

"We are very pleased to be associated with Hull City Council and the launch of this exciting new scheme", says David Clayphan, Vice President Vodafone UK Division, Ericsson. "We are determined to be the driving force in this emerging market of person-to-machine and machine-to-machine mobile services. This Hull Cashless parking scheme is just one example of a range of new business opportunities only limited by our own imagination."

Integral to the system is Cellenium, a leading provider of mobile commerce solutions. In addition to developing the Cashless Parking Application, Cellenium is hosting its Mobile Commerce Platform, (the hardware and software) which is the heart of the Cashless Parking operation.

Vox Generation is hosting the software for the advanced spoken language interface that provides the customer with a user experience comparable to dealing with an actual person. Hence this ensures that the widest spectrum of the Public - including technology averse people - will be able to access the ground breaking parking system without the need for a specialist handset.

Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its continuous technology leadership. Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most powerful communication companies in the world.

London based Vox Generation is a leading developer and deployer of innovative voice interfaces and solutions. Vox's technology is quickly adaptable to a broad range of enterprise requirements and applications. Vox has deployed systems for a number of blue chip clients and integration partners.

Cellenium are a world leading provider of of mobile commerce solutions and have a number of mobile commerce applications working in the field globally. These include ticketing, taxis, fuelling, vending and fast food services, amongst others.