Regulated pay-to-park: problems and solutions

Finding a parking spot in the city is one the biggest headaches that drivers face. The lack of vehicle parking means that Regulated Parking Zones are again used too heavily. Therefore, along with other cases of regulated parking, it is essential to consider how to efficiently monitor regulated pay-to-park in cities.

Traffic organization and urban mobility are very complex issues facing municipalities and public administrations. It is difficult to make everyone happy because there are so many vehicles driving around cities and there aren’t enough parking spots for all of them. And there are even fewer when there are spots reserved for users who pay a fee to park.

One way to solve this issue is by using advanced digital solutions and technologies to guarantee that pay-to-park spots are only used by drivers who have actually paid. Digitizing the system is an efficient way to ensure appropriate use of these spots, because otherwise the surveillance cost is very high because it requires a large staff and is seldom profitable for the city. 

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

What are pay-to-park spOTs and what problems arise when managing them?

Regulated pay-to-park services consist of parking lots with a fee for a certain period of time, controlled by a parking meter where drivers have to pay. There are different ways to manage or monitor these kinds of parking lots:

  • Pay & Display: This is the traditional payment method in which a ticket is left on the vehicle windshield. It is inefficient to manage because the surveillance service has to check car-by-car to see whether they have tickets displayed, so there is the possibility of human error and many resources are required.
  • Pay by Plate: Drivers have to enter their license plate number when they pay, which makes checking more efficient because the registrations are scanned to see whether they have paid. However, this method still requires management along fixed routes instead of by zones. Scan&Car (a car that reads the registrations) means having a surveillance vehicle circulating, which is expensive to operate and maintain. It also means increasing the number of vehicles in circulation instead of decongesting the roads. Furthermore, this method does not produce real-time alerts and a warden is needed to give a fine after they have been alerted.
  • PaybySpot: This third payment management method can also include license plate numbers if users pay the fee via an app. It is therefore a management system that allows for price controls and real-time alerts. This system makes it easier for vehicle 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 are the problems in managing these regulated and pay-to-park spots? Basically we can talk about two kinds of problems, namely those we just mentioned in the PaybySpot method.

Drivers who do not pay to park

The first case is drivers who do not pay to park their vehicle in the pay-to-park spots. This causes different problems, not only economic losses for the administration responsible for managing regulated parking areas, which ceases to earn revenue from this service.

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

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

Vehicles overstaying theIR parking time

The second problem in effectively monitoring pay-to-park spots occurs with vehicles that do pay to park but overstay their time and hold the spot for hours, in violation of the rules, which hinders the smooth, optimal rotation of vehicles in traffic management strategies and mobility in cities.

Solutions to manage pay-to-park spOTs

Given the two most important issues that affect the efficient, productive and legal management of pay-by-spot parking in cities, what are the solutions to resolve them and gain effective monitoring that benefits all drivers and users who pay to park?

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

Single spOT parking DETECTION

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

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

Warden alert systems

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

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

Pago por plaza


Ensures adherence to street parking regulations and improves control efficiency by providing remote alerts to service managers and local police in the event of non-payment or exceeding time limits.
See more

Advantages of using technologies to MONITOR pay-by-spOT

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 monitoring of pay-to-park spots, the technologies we have discussed linked to a “pay-by-spot” management model offer a series of benefits for public administrations, surveillance services, and drivers.

  • First, it optimizes monitoring 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 zone management.
  • Secondly, the integration of payment systems considerably reduces fraud in the use of regulated spots both by reacting when it occurs and serving a preventive or persuasive role.
  • Thirdly, urban mobility is more fluid because vehicles park only for the time allowed based on the time they pay to use this service, leading to appropriate rotation.
  • Fourthly, there are parking lot guidance systems so drivers take much less time to find a free parking spot, and because there are alert systems, only authorized vehicles stop.
  • Fifthly, local commerce is boosted because people are more easily able to access shops in an orderly manner, which benefits 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 spots 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-spot services in cities currently have are real and cannot be ignored. But there are also advanced, efficient applications and technologies that respect the protection of vehicle and driver data while allowing for efficient monitoring and management, thus optimizing costs and improving service quality.

¿Want to know more about Smart Parking?

Contact us and discover how we can help you.