UK investment company implements Genetec AutoVu parking system

UK investment company implements Genetec AutoVu parking system
As one of the leading property investment firms in the United Kingdom, Group First has been focused on creating stable and profitable long-term opportunities for its investors since 1998. The company offers a diversified portfolio of investments from serviced apartment blocks, housing estates, and business centers to industrial estates, self-storage facilities and international airport car parks.

Always on the look-out to expand investment opportunities for its clients, Group First recently acquired six long-term parking lots surrounding Glasgow Airport. The parking service provides a total of 8500 spaces to customers who can book parking through an easy online booking application called Speed Park. Group First customers can invest in a specific number of spaces for a given time period.

After acquiring the lots, Group First recognized an immediate need for a better parking management system that would be able to link directly to its investor database for easy profitability reporting. Group First also wanted to improve the customer experience and offer a seamless parking journey by incorporating greater automation.

In its search for the right solution, Group First partnered with parking consultant and integrator, Mark A Howarth, Managing Director at Beacon Parking Services. At Howarth's recommendation, Group First decided to move forward with a customized solution built by Beacon Parking Services and one of its partners that specialize in software development of carpark management systems, NetFM UK Ltd., using Genetec AutoVu, the automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) system of Security Center. Security Center unifies IP video surveillance, access control, ALPR and other third-party systems in one intuitive solution.

Automating Vehicle Access Control to Parking Lots
With a successful pilot project underway at two of the Glasgow Airport parking lots, Group First is already realizing the benefits of its new automated parking system using the AutoVu ALPR system.

According to John Slater, Managing Director at Group First, "Our parking service is all about making our customers lives easier and that is exactly what the AutoVu solution helps us do. The fully customized system developed by Beacon Parking Services and Net FM has also helped us streamline investor relations by automating our performance reports. From a business perspective, we expect to realize a full return on this technological investment in less than a year."

Customers that require long-term airport parking can book their parking in advance through the Speed Park website. Arrival and departure times as well as the vehicle's number plate is provided upon booking. This information is sent to the customized Speed Park booking software which is synced with the AutoVu system.

Customers that require long-term airport parking can book their parking in advance through the Speed Park website. Arrival and departure times as well as the vehicle's number plate is provided upon booking.

"On the scheduled arrival date, the customer drives up to the lot where their number plate is scanned by an AutoVu Sharp ALPR camera. The AutoVu system compares that number plate to a database of permitted number plates and grants access by triggering the opening of the barrier gate," explains Slater.

If the customer arrives in a different vehicle than originally expected and is denied entry, they can input a one-time pin code provided in the confirmation email upon booking in to the touchscreen terminal at the entrance barrier. The AutoVu system will send that number plate information back to the Speed Park software which will update the account information. If there is a rogue vehicle or a vehicle who decides to tailgate into the lot, entering swiftly behind another vehicle, the ALPR system will send an alert to Group First operators who can then dispatch security.

Improving Service with Valuable ALPR System Data
When the customer is ready to leave the carpark, the same ALPR reading process occurs. While a grace period is generally provided to all customer in the event of a delayed flight, if the customer leaves the parking lot much later than expected, terms and conditions stipulate that they will be automatically charged for the additional time. Date and time stamps as well as a full color picture of the vehicle is recorded within the system as vehicles leave the carpark, helping to facilitate transactions and disprove any disputes.

Net FM, developers of the Speed Park software were also able to leverage the flexibility of the advanced software development kit to integrate the two systems and build a complete solution that caters to Group First's unique needs. For example, by frequently syncing information between the two systems, Group First can receive real-time data such as the number of customers waiting for the airport shuttle service at any given time, helping Group First efficiently streamline its shuttle schedule. When the shuttle bus arrives for pick-up, AutoVu scans the number plate which creates an event in the system and automatically resets the number for pick-up back to zero.

Concerning investor relations, the Speed Park software has been designed to fairly distribute revenues to the next parking space, and thus investor, in the queue. Group First then sends automated monthly reports on revenues generated from the lot, usage of the lot, and more. Quarterly investor reports are also generated by the system and mailed to investors by Group First.

Expanding Lot Security with System Unification
With this first phase well underway, Group First is looking to expand this self-serve parking solution to other sites. The property investment company also wants to evolve its system to include Genetec Omnicast, the IP video surveillance system of Security Center, to improve the security of its lots. As more sites come online, Group First will look at creating a central command center where operators can view video from multiple sites and handle intercom calls from the digital stations at the barrier gates.

"The whole transaction, from booking to parking to generating reports for our investors has been simplified, and is far more efficient than our previous solution. The AutoVu system works very well, offering high levels of plate read accuracy and complete reliability. This entire solution is cutting-edge, but more importantly, it helps Group First provide top-notch parking services to our customers, which leads to recurring bookings, and thus, happy investors," concludes Slater.

Infrastructure at a Glance
Group First has a total of four AutoVu Sharp ALPR cameras, one camera installed at the entry and exit of each lot. Cameras are hardwired back to local onsite servers, which connect back to corporate servers and sync data to the Speed Park software. The Genetec™ advanced software development kit was used to customize the integrated applications. Beacon Parking Services Ltd designed and manufactured all the barriers and control cabinets that integrate with the AutoVu system in collaboration with Autogate Systems Ltd to provide a bespoke system in the client's corporate colours.

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