Calgary Parking Authority


Bringing technology and innovation to your parking space

The developers of the ParkPlus System, the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) manage local parking through an automated system that integrates parking payment and enforcement. The ParkPlus System is extremely innovative in two respects­—its revolutionary payment system offers drivers multiple payment methods, and enforcement is conducted through mobile license plate recognition technology.

Not only does ParkPlus accept payment via coin and credit card, it also offers payment through the use of a customer’s cell phone.

After setting up an online account unique to your license plate, customers can easily activate, as well as deactivate or extend, parking sessions from their cell phone. Notably, the ParkPlus System creates a very user-friendly environment for customers and the CPA alike.

“Customers don’t need to find a payment terminal. They can simply walk to their meeting and activate a parking session,” Troy McLeod, General Manager of the Calgary Parking Authority, told The Canadian Business Journal. “They don’t have to leave money in a meter. They only pay for the time they use. And the way that the Calgary Parking Authority has the system set up, there are no fees with the cell phone service.”

For those customers choosing to pay by cell phone—about 30 per cent, a number on the rise as customers become more familiar with ParkPlus – the system also sends notifications when their parking session is about to expire or if they’ve parked in a restricted parking zone. The result has been a reduction in the number of parking infractions reported to the CPA.

Parking enforcement

The second innovation of the ParkPlus System is enforcement, which is monitored through CPA vehicles equipped with four remote-controlled cameras and an onboard GPS system complete with license plate recognition technology to ensure parking payment and regulation compliance.

Five camera-equipped vehicles use license plate recognition technology to provide high accuracy tracking of payment and infractions. Last year, ParkPlus reported 280,000 parking infractions, of which 99.8 proved accurate.

The mobile license plate recognition system gathers information through digital photos which are then compiled into a database and referenced to confirm payment and enforcement fines. Overall, the system scans more than 8,000 license plates every day. This capability also allows the Calgary Parking Authority to work alongside the Calgary Police Service and the Canadian Police Information Centre to report any data relating to stolen vehicles.

This year the CPA will launch its “virtual gates” by installing the ParkPlus enforcement system at parkade entrances and exits. Through an extension of the existing technology, cameras will verify payment as vehicles exit the parkade. The system is currently enforced by a vehicle that drives through each facility and captures license plate information.

“Instead of having the camera drive around, we will install it at the entrances and exits at a fixed location to ensure that we have 100 per cent compliance in our facilities,” McLeod said. “Currently we operate anywhere from two to five per cent non-compliance, so this will certainly improve our revenue for our sites.”

Business and Smartphone applications

The Calgary Parking Authority is also moving to better connect with the local business community through its online activation process that allows business owners to pay for their customers’ parking. The ParkPlus System is very modern and customer friendly. As we know, with most methods of parking payment drivers must first find a pay machine, purchase a parking pass, and then return to their vehicle to display the pass within their vehicle. It’s a tedious task, particularly during inclement weather.

The CPA will soon launch its Parking Authority smartphone application which will provide

GPS-based route planning and a Find My Vehicle feature to help users locate their vehicle. Users will also be able to quickly activate and deactivate parking sessions and request assistance for tire inflation or battery boosting through the authority’s 24/7 on-site security personnel.

Managing both parkades and on-street parking, the Calgary Parking Authority has also reported a 10 per cent increase in on-street parking levels because of the ease-of-use of the ParkPlus System. ParkPlus’ smartphone application also instantaneously identifies parking availability through the use of predictive and historical parking data.

Meanwhile, ParkPlus zones have also replaced traditional parking meters which had limitations both in terms of payment methods—only coins and SmartPay cards were accepted—and in terms of parking enforcement and parking availability information. A secondary impact of replacing traditional meters has been an increase in street and pedestrian space.

Calgary Parking Authority’s ParkPlus initiative truly represents a high-tech approach and a more efficient method of municipal parking management.