Here’s how Comarch’s intelligent parking information system will transform Krakow

The sensors at work. Image: Zarząd Dróg Miejskich.

In just a few months, the Polish city of Kraków will be using a new parking information system, based on Comarch's Smart Parking solution. The new system will monitor four streets in the city's very centre, and provide live information about free parking places via mobile apps and local informatioin boards.

The project has been commissioned by Miejska Infrastruktura, the municipal department for urban infrastructure. Initially, it will cover parking places in the Paid Parking Zone (PPZ) along the following streets: Szlak, Warszawska, Ogrodowa, and Matejki Square (an extension of Warszawska Street).

But information on free places will ultimately be available for the entire PPZ, and for other city car parks, including the one located near the Korona sporting arena, and the underground car park next to the National Museum. In the future, the information system will even connect to other city car parks, the planned Park & Ride car parks, and those of other operators, too.

The science part

The project involves the installation of 284 wireless sensors and two information boards, as well as the provision of the mobile applications running on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Once complete, the system will collect information on availability of places on a 24-7 basis, to inform drivers in real time about the number of free car park places.

The solution is supplemented by a management and analytical platform that will monitor the functioning of the infrastructure that makes up the system. Miejska Infrastruktura will also be able to obtain analytical data in the form of reports and summaries of key indicators and statistics on utilisation of car park places. All this will help the department to make decisions concerning the city's parking policy.

“Towns more and more rely on smart city solutions that enhance both the quality of life of inhabitants, and their safety,” says Comarch’s sales director Barbara Waszkiewicz. She added that the firm’s smart parking solution means that “the time needed to find a free car park place will be shortened – which will result in less intensive traffic in the area.

Krakow is not the first Polish city to install a Comarch IT solution that monitors the number of free car park places in a town: just a few weeks ago, Warsaw adopted a similar system. “The fact that the two largest cities in Poland have decided to have a Comarch system proves that it meets expectations of local-government authorities” says Waszkiewicz, “also those of city inhabitants. Facilitated finding of a parking space is convenient for drivers, and a chance to reduce pollution produced by cars.”

The menu of Comarch's smart parking app.

The firm has has invested intensively in its car parking solutions, explains Product Manager, Comarch Smart City product manager Wojciech Dec. As a result, it can now offer a system that combines multiple methods of detecting the occupancy of car park places.

“Kraków's system is based on sensors,” says Dec. “Nonetheless, the Comarch Smart Parking platform allows connecting solutions that also utilise other detection methods, for example, using cameras and smart video analytics. We combine these two methods of recognising free car park places, adjusting the system to specific expectations of our clients.”

And the technology is still developing. “We have great hopes for a solution that is based on smart video analytics that,” Dec notes. Besides highlighting free car park places, this would allow monitoring of whether drivers were complying with regulations – detecting cars left in prohibited places, those blocking tramway lines, or left on pavements, grass lawns, or bicycle paths.

It would also improve safety in public space. “The solution is innovative and meets with growing interests on Polish and foreign markets,” Dec concludes. “The software is continuously developed and we hope that increasingly more drivers will use it on a daily basis.”

Comarch has more than 20 years of experience in helping global companies to achieve higher profitability, and understands the importance of changes taking place in contemporary cities. Its state-of-the art technologies, geolocation with micro-navigation, multi-channel access to the Internet and the growing needs of users, have made it both possible and necessary for the firm to design a comprehensive solution that combines an individual approach to clients, strategic planning and advanced analytical capabilities.

You can find out more here.


 

 
 
 
 

The ATM is 50. Here’s how a hole in the wall changed the world

The olden days. Image Lloyds Banking Group Archives & Museum.

Next time you withdraw money from a hole in the wall, consider singing a rendition of happy birthday. For today, the Automated Teller Machine (or ATM) celebrates its half century.

Fifty years ago, the first cash machine was put to work at the Enfield branch of Barclays Bank in London. Two days later, a Swedish device known as the Bankomat was in operation in Uppsala. And a couple of weeks after that, another one built by Chubb and Smith Industries was inaugurated in London by Westminster Bank (today part of RBS Group).

These events fired the starting gun for today’s self-service banking culture – long before the widespread acceptance of debit and credit cards. The success of the cash machine enabled people to make impromptu purchases, spend more money on weekend and evening leisure, and demand banking services when and where they wanted them. The infrastructure, systems and knowledge they spawned also enabled bankers to offer their customers point of sale terminals, and telephone and internet banking.

There was substantial media attention when these “robot cashiers” were launched. Banks promised their customers that the cash machine would liberate them from the shackles of business hours and banking at a single branch. But customers had to learn how to use – and remember – a PIN, perform a self-service transaction and trust a machine with their money.

People take these things for granted today, but when cash machines first appeared many had never before been in contact with advanced electronics.

And the system was far from perfect. Despite widespread demand, only bank customers considered to have “better credit” were offered the service. The early machines were also clunky, heavy (and dangerous) to move, insecure, unreliable, and seldom conveniently located.

Indeed, unlike today’s machines, the first ATMs could do only one thing: dispense a fixed amount of cash when activated by a paper token or bespoke plastic card issued to customers at retail branches during business hours. Once used, tokens would be stored by the machine so that branch staff could retrieve them and debit the appropriate accounts. The plastic cards, meanwhile, would have to be sent back to the customer by post. Needless to say, it took banks and technology companies years to agree common standards and finally deliver on their promise of 24/7 access to cash.

The globalisation effect

Estimates by RBR London concur with my research, suggesting that by 1970, there were still fewer than 1,500 of the machines around the world, concentrated in Europe, North America and Japan. But there were 40,000 by 1980 and a million by 2000.

A number of factors made this ATM explosion possible. First, sharing locations created more transaction volume at individual ATMs. This gave incentives for small and medium-sized financial institutions to invest in this technology. At one point, for instance, there were some 200 shared ATM networks in the US and 80 shared networks in Japan.

They also became more popular once banks digitised their records, allowing the machines to perform a host of other tasks, such as bank transfers, balance requests and bill payments. Over the last five decades, a huge number of people have made the shift away from the cash economy and into the banking system. Consequently, ATMs became a key way of avoiding congestion at branches.

ATM design began to accommodate people with visual and mobility disabilities, too. And in recent decades, many countries have allowed non-bank companies, known as Independent ATM Deployers (IAD) to operate machines. The IAD were key to populating non-bank locations such as corner shops, petrol stations and casinos.

Indeed, while a large bank in the UK might own 4,000 devices and one in the US as many as 12,000, Cardtronics, the largest IAD, manages a fleet of 230,000 ATMs in 11 countries.


Bank to the future

The ATM has remained a relevant and convenient self-service channel for the last half century – and its history is one of invention and re-invention, evolution rather than revolution.

Self-service banking and ATMs continue to evolve. Instead of PIN authentication, some ATMS now use “tap and go” contactless payment technology using bank cards and mobile phones. Meanwhile, ATMs in Poland and Japan have used biometric recognition, which can identify a customer’s iris, fingerprint or voice, for some time, while banks in other countries are considering them.

So it’s a good time to consider what the history of cash dispensers can teach us. The ATM was not the result of a eureka moment of a single middle-aged man in a bath or garage, but from active collaboration between various groups of bankers and engineers to solve the significant challenges of a changing world. It took two decades for the ATM to mature and gain widespread, worldwide acceptance, but today there are 3.5m ATMs with another 500,000 expected by 2020.

Research I am currently undertaking suggests that ATMs may have reached saturation point in some Western countries. However, research by the ATM Industry Association suggests there is strong demand for them in China, India and the Middle East. In fact, while in the West people tend to use them for three self-service functions (cash withdrawal, balance enquiries, and purchasing mobile phone airtime), Chinese customers consumers regularly use them for as many as 100 different tasks.

Taken for granted?

Interestingly, people in most urban areas around the world tend to interact with the same five ATMs. But they shouldn’t be taken for granted. In many countries in Africa, Asia and South America, they offer services to millions of people otherwise excluded from the banking sector.

In most developed counties, meanwhile, the retail branch and the ATM are the only two channels over which financial institutions have 100 per cent control. This is important when you need to verify the authenticity of your customer. Banks do not control the make and model of their customers’ smart phones, tablets or personal computers, which are vulnerable to hacking and fraud. While ATMs are targeted by thieves, mass cybernetic attacks on them have yet to materialise.

The ConversationI am often asked whether the advent of a cashless, digital economy heralds the end of the ATM. My response is that while the world might do away with cash and call ATMs something else, the revolution of automated self-service banking that began 50 years ago is here to stay.

Bernardo Batiz-Lazo is professor of business history and bank management at Bangor University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.