Government Technology

London Finds Surprising Uses for Parking Data

Goswell Road in Islington. Photo courtesy of Nick Sarebi / Flickr CC

March 1, 2012 By

In the London borough of Islington, parking enforcement officers patrol a 12-square-mile area that’s home to more than 180,000 people. As one might expect in a metropolitan area, the borough is composed of a compact network of roads, businesses and homes.

“For every square mile, there’s about 18 miles of road,” said John Galsworthy, head of Parking and Business Service, which oversees parking enforcement and permitting in the borough and supports business and financial services for the larger Public Realm division. “There are lots of high-rise properties and things like that, so you’ve got lots of people living on small footprints of land.”

Even though only one out of every two residents owns a car, commuters bring thousands more cars to the area. Galsworthy estimates his organization issues about 250,000 parking tickets and upward of 40,000 permits annually.

Like many U.S. local government operations, UK governments are also being pushed to reduce costs, leaving Galsworthy with the challenge of effectively carrying out operations without a lot of expenditure. To gain greater insight into its operations, Parking and Business Service sought an analytics tool to gain greater insight into the division’s operations. But since deploying an embedded business intelligence (BI) solution last summer from LogiXML called Logi Info, the organization has found that it can use the system for more, and has been using it to query and connect underlying data.

The borough already had some BI tools in place, but because they were managed on an enterprise level, Galsworthy said it was difficult and expensive for him to get what he needed from them. So the division sought a BI tool that it had more direct control over. Galsworthy said LogiXML’s architecture and pricing model made it a good fit because the organization didn’t have a lot of money to invest in development and licensing.

Logi Info is installed on an organization’s servers, and users access the system via the Internet. So rather than charging a user-based license fee, the company’s pricing model is based on the number and size of the servers on which it is installed, said David Abramson, director of product management for LogiXML. “With someone like the borough of Islington, they can serve all of their people in the field as well as all of their internal resources with the licensing structure that makes sense to reach all of those people,” said Abramson.

Another cost advantage, Galsworthy said, is that the system is easy to deploy and integrate with existing systems, so the borough also didn’t have to spend a lot on development.

Galsworthy said more than 400 employees currently use the system, including civil enforcement officers on the street.

Better Intelligence

The division has used its new reporting capabilities to identify areas where resources were going to waste. For instance, the analytics showed that compliance rates were much higher in some areas of the borough than others, and the division was able to reduce the number of enforcement officers in those areas.

“I used to have 170 [workers] on the street,” said Galsworthy. “I’m now down to 135.” Islington’s civil enforcement officers are under contract from a third party, so the enforcement officers that are no longer needed in Islington are distributed into other contracts. Galsworthy also said that the increased reporting capabilities allowed the borough to consolidate the two layers of management it had in the borough and under the third-party contract.

The division also reduced administrative costs related to canceled tickets — where ticket recipients successfully appeal — by running reports that showed cancellation rates. “You start to find streets that have high volumes of tickets that were issued and then canceled for some reason,” said Galsworthy. The division can then investigate the reason for the high cancelation rate and fix the problem, for instance, by making signage more visible.

Connecting Data

While the analytics have saved the city a significant amount of money, the division also uses the system to run queries of underlying data and make connections between data in various databases and business systems.

“What we’ve managed to do because of the way Logi’s infrastructure works, we’ve been able to use a BI tool to replace part of the business system and build almost a Web services-type approach for very simple queries for people out on the street,” said Galsworthy. For instance, an officer may query the system for a license plate number and

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