Touchscreen Kiosks and the Next Generation of Car Parking Solutions

25 August 2020
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By Jason SOUTHERN, UK Sales Manager – AURES UK

Self-service payment options are nothing new in car parks. In fact, the car parking sector was one of the first to adopt automated ticket machines (ATMs), which in turn were one of the earliest types of self-service kiosk.

Whether it is pay and display, pay on foot (where tickets are issued on entry and payment is made at an ATM just before leaving) or pay on departure (remember those old coin baskets where you had to throw in the right change?), automated self-payment has been the norm now for many years.

Out of all the payment solutions available in car parks, pay and display probably remains the most common. But things are changing. With every type of organisation having to look to their environmental responsibilities these days, paperless ticketing is a growing trend. Similarly, not only are we rapidly transitioning to cashless payments across the economy, contactless is on track to become the dominant option – especially in the wake of COVID-19.

In step with these developments, kiosk technology is evolving, too. Compared to the ATMs of yesteryear, modern touchscreen kiosks are more compact, more versatile and more user-friendly. Not only that, but because they are fully digital, touchscreen kiosks connect seamlessly to a wide range of payment and e-ticketing solutions that ensure customers get more choice and convenience than ever.

Increasing the options

For example, touchscreen kiosks can be connected to an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system as part of a ticketless solution. Customers might be asked to enter their vehicle’s registration number and scan in their payment card at a kiosk on arrival. When they leave, a video camera registers their number plate in the ANPR, which then calculates the correct amount to debit their card for. If the ANPR detects a car trying to leave without the number plate and car details being logged, it can trigger a penalty notice.

Alternatively, the ANPR system could scan the vehicle’s number plate on the way into the car park. When the customer wants to leave, they head to a kiosk, select their vehicle from a list on the screen and pay the amount shown. An ANPR camera at the exit will recognise that payment has been received and lift the barrier.

Even without ANPR, touchscreen kiosks can be used for paperless ticketing by linking payments to a phone, either by Bluetooth/NFC or by sending an SMS. For example, customers could be asked to enter their phone number and pre-pay for a fixed amount of parking time. When they present their card, a QR code is sent to them by SMS, which they then scan to leave the car park.

There are several benefits to using touchscreen kiosks in these ways. For one, people like touchscreens. They are intuitive to use, easy to navigate and, of course, most of us are very

familiar with using them because of our smartphones. The example of choosing your car from a list on the screen after it has been detected by the ANPR, for example, means that payment can be processed with a single touch and a swipe of a card.

Another advantage is that touchscreen kiosks are slimline and compact, and therefore suitable for deployment in a wide range of locations. Indoors or outdoors, wall mounted or freestanding, touchscreen kiosks allow operators to increase the payment points available to customers.

Ticket printers, cash repositories and chip and pin card readers can still be added as required, but by also offering standalone touchscreens providing an entirely paperless, contactless solution, you increase the choices available and help to cut down on queues.