Regulated pay-to-park: problems and solutions

Finding a parking space around the city is one the biggest headaches facing drivers. The lack of parking for vehicles means that undue use is more than once made of Regulated Parking Zones. Therefore, among other cases of regulated parking, it is necessary to consider how to efficiently control regulated pay-to-park in cities.

Traffic organisation and urban mobility are very complex questions facing municipalities and Public Administrations. It is difficult to make everyone happy, because the volume of vehicles driving around cities is huge and there are not enough parking spaces for all. And there are even fewer when there are spaces reserved for users who pay a fee to park.

One way to resolve this question is to use advanced digital solutions and technologies to guarantee that pay-to-park spaces are only used by drivers who have actually paid. Digitising the system is an efficient way to ensure appropriate use of these spaces, otherwise the cost of surveillance is very high because it requires a large number of staff, and is practically never profitable for the council. 

For this reason, at Urbiotica we want to talk about the present problems and solutions facing efficient control of pay-to-park zones. In the second part of the article, we will discuss the integrated technological solutions designed to overcome such problems.

What are pay-to-park spaces and what problems occur in their management

Regulated pay-to-park services consist of car parks with a fee for a certain period of time, controlled by a parking meter where drivers have to pay. There are various types of management or control in these kinds of car parks:

  • Pay & Display: this is the traditional payment method in which a ticket is left on the vehicle windscreen. Its management is inefficient because the surveillance service has to check car by car to see whether they have tickets, so there is a possibility of human error and great resources are required.
  • Pay by Plate: drivers have to enter their registration when they pay, which makes checking more efficient because the registrations are read to see whether they have paid. However, this method still requires management along fixed routes and not by zones. In the case of Scan&Car (a car that reads the registrations), this means having a surveillance vehicle circulating, which is expensive in operation and maintenance. It also means increasing the number of vehicles in circulation instead of decongesting the traffic; the method does not produce real-time alerts and does mean that a warden is needed to give a fine, once alerted.
  • PaybySpace: this third payment management method can also include registrations if users pay the fee via an app. It is therefore a management system that allows price control and real-time alerts. This system makes vehicle detection easier for arrivals and departures to be detected at all times, and alerts can be generated for two kinds of problems: vehicles parking without paying and vehicles overstaying their time.

What problems lie in managing these regulated and pay-to-park spaces? Basically we can talk about two kinds of problems, which are those we just mentioned in the PaybySpace method.

Drivers who do not pay to park

The first case is that of drivers who do not pay to park the vehicle in the pay-to-park spaces. This is a reality that causes different problems, and not only economic harm to the Administration responsible for managing regulated parking areas, which ceases to earn revenue from this service.

Parking without paying for this type of parking space also causes mobility problems in cities, since the improper use of regulated parking spaces forces drivers to occupy others. This produces a kind of domino effect.

The above situation means that traffic in cities stops flowing when drivers cannot find parking spaces. So environmental and noise pollution increases due to the longer circulation time, in addition to the increased stress of spending too much time looking for a place to park.

Vehicles overstaying the parking time

The second problem in the effective control of pa-to-park spaces occurs with vehicles that do pay to park, but overstay their time and hold the space for hours, breaking the regulations and not allowing the smooth and optimal rotation of vehicles there should be in traffic management strategies and mobility in cities.

Pago por plaza


Ensures compliance with street parking regulations and enhances control efficiency through remote alerts to service managers and local police in case of non-payment or exceeded time sessions
See more

Solutions to manage pay-to-park spaces

Given the two most important issues that affect the efficient, productive and legal management of pay-by-space in cities, what solutions are there to resolve them and gain effective control for the benefit of all drivers and users who pay to park?

At Urbiotica we want to recommend various solutions with advanced technology tools and products that greatly facilitate the task of managing pay-to-park spaces.

Single space parking DETECTION

Single space detection, such as U-Spot sensors or detection by artificial vision,U-Spot VISIO allows pay-to-park space management entities in cities to manage them efficiently and in real time. The use of such devices in a control solution for pay-to-park outdoor spaces has the advantage of drastically reducing fraud due to illegal parking, of increasing vehicle rotation and improving urban mobility by having more parking spaces available.

This type of detection does not take any data from the vehicles, but rather detects their presence so that an advanced communications system tells car park managers how many parking spaces are duly occupied at any given time and which are in breach of the regulations.

Warden alert systems

In addition to these devices, the control of pay-by-space in cities is much more efficient if alert systems for security guards such as ParkCtrl are used. How does it work? The user declares the use of a parking space and drivers are offered information on the authorised time remaining for the use of the spaces.

This app and platform’s communication networks mean that surveillance services receive instant alerts when a driver parks in these spaces without paying, in other words, when they occupy it improperly. And it also warns when a driver overstays their time.

Advantages of using technologies to control pay-by-space

Technology has come a long way in recent years, with exponential leaps in the advantages it offers in all kinds of fields and sectors. In the efficient control of pay-to-park spaces, the technologies we have discussed linked to a “pay-by-space” management model offer a series of benefits for Public Administrations, surveillance services and drivers.

  • Firstly, it optimises control costs, requiring fewer resources thanks to the real-time alert system, which is possible because the data is managed on the platform efficiently and with the maximum reliability provided by vehicle detection sensors. In other words, there is a shift from a fixed route management model to one of zone management.
  • Secondly, the integration of payment systems considerably reduces fraud in the use of regulated spaces both by reacting when it occurs and in a preventive or persuasive manner.
  • Thirdly, urban mobility is more fluid because vehicles park for the time allowed based on the time they pay to use this service, and appropriate rotation is achieved.
  • Fourthly, it is also worth mentioning that there are car park guidance systems with which drivers take much less time to find a free parking space and since there are alert systems, only authorised vehicles stop.
  • And, fifthly, local trade is boosted because people are more easily able to access in an orderly manner, for the economic benefit of local businesses.

Therefore, technological solutions based on NB-IoT or LoRaWAN communication networks, Big Data or more reliable sensors and artificial vision (cameras) for vehicle detection are techniques that deter and prevent drivers from parking in these pay-to-park spaces without paying the fees due or overstaying their time. If they do, the surveillance services are notified immediately and can act quickly. The problems that pay-by-space services in cities currently have exist, and they cannot be ignored. But there are also advanced, efficient applications and technologies that respect the protection of vehicle and driver data while allowing efficient control and management, optimising costs and improving service quality.

¿Want to know more about Smart Parking?

Contact us and discover how we can help you.