The economic consequences of the pandemic stopped the project to install smart terminals that would speed up the entire process.
The economic consequences of combating the coronavirus are not only worryingly affecting thousands of industries and businesses that have slowed their production and are prevented from offering their services, but are also complicating the adoption of more efficient technologies to develop more innovative and “smart” cities.
Projects linked to facilitate monitoring of everything that happens in a large city – from traffic and parking patterns up to air quality and infrastructure integrity -they are staying relegated because of the need for governments to focus all economic efforts on ending the pandemic.
The City of Buenos Aires does not escape this scenario. In fact his authorities began to put some initiatives in the freezer oriented to generate greater efficiency and that result in better service to citizens.
Plan “smart parking meters”
Among the initiatives that remained delayed, at least for this year, the installation in various areas of the City of the so-called “smart parking meters”, which allow manage payment and search for parking lots from your cell phone, eliminating the current tickets, blanks and coins.
Thus, when it is possible to return to a certain social and work normality, the task of finding a space to leave the car will continue to be as problematic and tedious as until before the arrival of the coronavirus, when six million people and 1.6 million private vehicles, 37,000 taxis and 10,000 buses circulated.
Two years ago, the Buenos Aires government approved the call to tender to grant, under the legal regime of Public Service Concession, the provision of services related to the Regulated Parking System that companies control today Dakota-STO and BRD-SECwhose contracts are expired no less than from 2001.
At that time, the process for dealing with a new parking system regulated and carry that, according to the authors, “will modernize a vital service for the administration of public space and will represent a leap of 30 years of technology, in addition to allowing save 20% of the trip that today is used to find parking space“
The objective also included the extension of the parking system measured at about 10,000 (of the 24,400 blocks) that the City has, replacing parking meters with multipurpose terminals and setting new conditions for the infringing car haulage service.
The system was designed to work between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on working days and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, in addition to remove coins and blanks and replace them by electronic means payment, such as cell phones, tablets or computers.
I was also going to “retire” the paper ticket and exchange it for an electronic receipt. That is, it would be paid with credit card, debit and SUBE, and a digital invoice would be delivered.
The project foresees that you can find a place available, pay the fee and renew it
In addition, it was planned to prepare a “Offer Map“to know the availability of free spaces on public roads, streamlining the process. He was also going to notify the user time what was left available with a message on your cell phone and, instantly, offer you the chance to extend the hours by renewing the payment.
Taking this process into account, the administration led by Horacio Rodríguez Larreta also opened a tender in 2018 to award the technology and machines that were going to replace traditional parking meters with smart terminals.
The process was awarded to the French company Parkeon for a total amount of$ 16 million and the obligation to install 2,200 multipurpose teams on the streets of Buenos Aires before the end of 2018 and thus modernize the city’s measured parking system.
The company was also committed to develop a centralized administration system and its operational maintenance, create an application for Mobile Payment System (SPM) and another for the System Pay online (SPI), and dictate individual or group training for implementation.
The financial crisis and devaluation during that year postponed the procedure for 2020, when the plan was to start the replacement of the current tickeadoras during the first semester to reach the new smart parking meters already installed for end of the year.
In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the whole procedure was postponed again. The decision was reflected in Resolution No. 276 of the Buenos Aires Ministry of Urban Development and Transportation, directed by Juan José Méndez, in which the suspension of the arrival of the smart parking meters in the need to put all efforts into fight against pandemic.
The contract with Parkeon company (which currently operates under the trade name Flowbird), had been signed last December 23. To optimize the operation of the new system, it had been deemed convenient to reduce the number of multipurpose terminals to 1,500 units.
But when the French firm was preparing to start the procedure installation of these equipments, the WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic that made the implementation of preventive measures and control tending to reduce the risk of spread.
Within this framework, various decisions were made at the national and local levels, such as the declaration within the City of the health emergency. The Buenosairean government also sanctioned a decree that empowered the authorities to “order the review of all processes, in process or in progress, referring to Buying and Hiring of goods, services, supplies, public works (…) held prior to the entry into force. ”
But, in parallel, the company Flowbird had anticipated to the authorities that, at not having received the advance committed to signing the contract, it was not possible to continue with the execution of the project. He also reported that he was going to resume when you receive it and a calendar will be provided updated work, taking into account the impact of freezing.
In order not to postpone the project more than necessary, the management of Flowbird had authorized the core team to continue the specification work during this pandemic period. However, at the end of March, it stated that its global operations they had been affected by the coronavirus.
Using the app will improve traffic and reduce the search time for parking places
“The protection measures that we have established are having immediate impact on our activities and so we are forced to immediately stop all activity“, assured the French company by means of a letter sent to the Buenosairean Executive.
Thus, the Buenos Aires government finished defining the project suspension for 90 days. That is to say, until the end of August, although everything indicates that the freeze will extend beyond that date.
The definitive cancellation of the process is not ruled out either, taking into account the strong negative impact that the fight against the virus will leave both in the official coffers and in the economic and financial equation of the French company.
However, official sources estimate that it could be resumed next year since it is a process considered fundamental to contribute to the organization of parking in the city and in turn renew technology with the incorporation of multipurpose terminals, providing a modern, transparent and quality service.
It will not only bring benefits for motoristsbut also for coffers of the Buenosairean government, if it is taken into account that, in normal times, the acts for improper parking occupy the second place in the ranking of the most common infractions in the City of Buenos Aires.