CellOPark: The new app about to make parking easier

Christine D'Mello

When Ori Almog moved to Australia from Israel, one of the first things he noticed was the way Australians were paying for their parking, particularly on street.

“Having come from Tel Aviv, a city where there are no parking machines on the street - only pay-by-phone technology - he saw an opportunity,” says Michael Doherty, managing director of CellOPark Australia, the company Almog founded.

So he created the business, entering into a licensing arrangement for that core technology with the original Israeli company.

CellOPark’s technology pre-dates smartphones. But it’s only now, with rise in on-demand mobile services, they have an app-based parking solution.

“Ori and I are both quite passionate about this technology. We believe it’s the future for Australians as far as paying for parking, both on street and off street.”

Motorists can use their phone to pay instead of feeding coins or cards into a parking meter or ticket machine in places where the parking provider offers CellOPark, or pointing their smartphone camera at a QR code on zone signage.

“Ori and I are both quite passionate about this technology. We believe it’s the future for Australians as far as paying for parking, both on street and off street.”

They can start, stop and pay for on-street parking using their smartphone. The system is also ticketless. With the exception of all-day parking areas, the driver is charged only for the time the vehicle is parked.

“When we enter into a commercial arrangement with a parking provider, we essentially take a fee per transaction, or a small percentage of the parking revenue,” says Doherty.

He says there is no cost to the motorist. “It’s a member-based system and motorists download the app, give us their contact details, licence plate of their vehicles, and payment details. Once they have signed up and they have got the app on their smartphone, it’s a matter of looking for areas where CellOPark operates.”

A basic account allows motorists to start and stop parking sessions at no additional cost. “We also have what some would call a premium approach.” These accounts get reminders and push notifications. For this service, motorists are charged $1.99 per vehicle per month.

With the premium account, members get sms reminders. “When the parking time in the 2P, for example, is approaching, they get an sms message of 1.45mins. They also get push notifications if they have left their session running.”

For the customer who may still be on a 2G mobile, CellOPark has a pay-by-phone option.

“We’re operating in all of the on-street paid parking areas throughout Brisbane.”

CellOPark is now cloud-hosted and operates with around a dozen parking providers from Fremantle city and Curtin University in WA to Australian National University in the ACT, plus Deakin University and La Trobe University in Victoria, to name some locations.

Their most recent addition is Brisbane City Council. “We’re operating in all of the on-street paid parking areas throughout Brisbane.”

CellOPark has had a lot of success with the university market. “The demographic is great for us.”

Doherty says they are soon to launch a service that would be “Australia’s first off-street provision”, again leveraging technology that exists in Israel. “Motorists over there can start and stop parking sessions when they are parked by the curb and also enter and exit gated car parks through technology, such as licence plate recognition cameras.

“We are fortunate to be in the game early. The next phase for us is to take a two-pronged approach. We have really got some traction in the pay-by-app and pay-by-phone world. And I think the virtual permits and other cloud-based technologies for parking are another area that’s CellOPark Australia as a business is looking to expand into.”

In the last financial year, they were able to achieve their target figure of 100,000 users. “We measure the business on number of active members,” says Doherty. “We want to take that figure north.”

Christine D’Mello

Christine D'Mello is a freelance journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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