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Washington State Brings Mobile Event Control to their Football Parking System

With a campus population of over 30,000 and the usual stresses of parking, particularly for events, Washington State University was looking for ways to streamline their issuance of permits for sports and other on campus events.

The University wanted the majority of permits to be issued prior to the drivers entering the campus but they also wanted to be able to issue permits on site and in real time. After all, many parkers simply “show up” for the games.

The University was using handheld devices for parking enforcement. The addition was the event permit module that was added to their existing AIMS citation and permit management system. WSU cannot endorse the specific brand of system, and other similar technology may be available from different vendors.

Using its existing vendor, WSU was able to upgrade to handhelds that could be used for enforcement and point of sale devices. Now WSU can sell permits on site and collect cash and credit cards charges. The entire system is PCI compliant.

“The best feature of the system,” says Chris Boyan, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, “Is the website that people can use to pre-purchase event permits. We currently use this to sell RV and general parking permits for football games.”

When the customer goes on line to purchase a permit, they can specify which game they are attending and select the area in which they wish to park. A map on the website gives information as to parking availability and specific locations for general and RV parking. “RV parking is really big at WSU. We park between 300 and 400 RVs per game.”

Parking and Transportation staff uses the handhelds to “check” the permit into the lot.  The handhelds also have the capability to vend and print a permit on site.  “If someone just shows up to the event for parking (this is often the case) we can sell them a permit at the entrance to the lot or at a designated pay area. We don’t take the license number if the permit is sold at the lot. They just purchase and enter the parking area.

We are hoping that as people learn that they can purchase online prior to the event they will use that more and more.  This allows them to go straight to the lot entrance instead of waiting in line to purchase on site.”

Overall the system has greatly improved Customer Service, says Boyan. On line sales offer quicker transaction times at the entry to the lots and gives the WSU staff better control over parking availability. “We use the latest handheld technology and scanning capabilities. The transactions are fast. About six seconds for a credit card transaction, 15 seconds for cash. The staff in the lanes can quickly scan preprinted permits and log the vehicles into the lots.

“We have about 7 staff on Gameday operate the handhelds, and 15-20 more to direct vehicles to parking areas. The cool thing is this group is mobile. They sell and fill one area and then move to the next area and so on.”

Overall, according to Boyan, the system has improved efficiencies by reducing paper management, enabling the WSU parking staff to devote fewer man hours to event preparation. Quicker transaction times in the lanes means less congestion and better customer service. The campus event parking system is dynamic and they sell both at the individual lots and at centralized locations.

“Prior to the new system, permits were sold on a first come, first served basis.  Now we have a detailed RV inventory, and there is not a risk of overselling.  We have sold out of all RV permits for all home games this year, so some RVs have had to use off campus locations. Previously we would pre-print permits and sell out of cash bank bags.  Most people brought cash so we had to manage cash controls and cash drops to minimize cash handling risk.”

“For general parking we also worked out of cash bags.  This new system will reduce the amount of cash transactions and the risk associated with cash handling controls.”

“It’s great that our handhelds serve multiple functions, says Boyan. “We use the same devices for enforcement, permit sales, and permit verification. Using the latest technology available has improved our customer service, employee efficiencies, and our bottom line.”



 

Article Abstract from December, 2012




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