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How Royal Parking Services, a Vancouver based parking lot management company went from a paper & pen company to a technology-based mobile-driven company.

Android SDK

Bluetooth

Printer

PHP

Waterproof

Paper

MYSQL

Web

Backend

HTML/CSS

Wifi & Data

Online/Offline

Business Driver

Royal Parking Services is a Vancouver based Parking Facilities Management company. Not only do they patrol parking lots around the BC lower mainland they also manage the properties such as keeping them clean, assisting with issues such as locked keys, providing parking support and guidance during events, cleanliness of the facilities, etc.

One of the key revenue sources for Royal Parking is through enforcement of parking lots, i.e, by way of collecting fees from vehicle owners that violate the rules of the parking lots they manage. At the time that Royal Parking engaged us, they were enforcing using a traditional pen and paper. Royal Parking’s officers would walk around the parking lot identify the violating vehicle, fill out a pre-printed form with the necessary violation information and leave the notice on the window of the violating vehicle.

In Vancouver it rains on an average of 165 days ~ 45% of the year. Parking lots in strip malls, suburban areas, small shopping complexes, banking and restaurant facilities are most often exposed to the elements and thus the paper and pen-based violation notices tend to pose some practical issues.

Business Need

Hence Royal Parking wanted to address the potential loss in revenue-building a technology solution whereby;

Waterproof Paper

Violation notices can be printed on waterproof paper

Save to the Cloud

Have the violation notices saved on the cloud

Mobile Based

Have the violation notices be created on a mobile device

Easy To Read

Information on the notices is typed legibly that can be easily read by everyone (both customer and Back-office users)

No Steep Learning Curve

The technology, especially hardware did not have to cumbersome and to use something that parking enforcement officers were already familiar with and did not require a steep learning curve.

Challenges

The following were design and solution considerations,

Waterproof Paper

Source a Waterproof paper, Paper had to be thermal printer-friendly such that it can withstand the natural elements

Thermal Wireless Printer

Source a thermal wireless printer, preferably Bluetooth (low energy consumption device) that can print on Waterproof printer

Wifi & Data Access

Not every parking lot had access to a wifi or had strong data signals to allow for violation notices to be written to the cloud

Back Office Team Access

Once written to the cloud, how shall the back office admin who are not mobile but desktop/laptop driven office get access to the information and process it

Additional Challenges

And for confidentiality purposes, cannot describe the other challenges within the back office. Suffice to say there were, and those need to be addressed.

Technology

What Did Redlizard Design & Build

We designed a mobile app that can be easily deployed on any android device. Since the app was going to be used by a limited and controlled group of employees, it was easy to limit to one platform. For its ease of development, cost of devices, ease of deployment (such as did not have to go through major hoops at the app approval levels) we chose Android.

A mobile app that gave us the right amount of control to connect, manage and use a Thermal bluetooth printer that was lightweight for use outside. Redlizard Studioz also worked closely with Royal Parking to source the printer, source the paper and test the paper as well. Redlizard worked closely with the 3rd party suppliers such as printer manufacturer and paper manufacturer and paper printer to design and deliver one coherent solution.

How did we build it?

A native android mobile app was developed. As the native sdk gave ample access to control the printer, wifi, data and other peripherals that were needed. At the time that the solution was designed, PWA’s were just a concept and hence leveraging PWA was not an option. In light of today’s state of PWA, we would strongly consider building a PWA app for a similar solution as we think it provides greater flexibility, ease of use, scale and a quicker turn around time to developing the same solution.

DB
  • MYSQL
  • Native Android Device Data Store
Backend
  • PHP
  • Custom API
Frontend
  • Native Android SDK
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript

Native Android App

Connectivity between Bluetooth Printer and Mobile App

Online & Offline use of the mobile app

A PHP cloud based web backend that would interface between the mobile app in the field and the back office team

Some advanced functionality and capability on the backend application that we cannot disclose for confidentiality reasons.

Architecture

Due to confidentiality clauses, we cannot divulge the architectural design. Suffice to say nothing overtly complicated was required for the solution and hence it was relatively easy to conceptualize and build.

Stable

Royal Parking has been using the mobile app and printer for nearly 1/2 a decade now

Infrastructure Support

Very little maintenance had to be done to the infrastructure.

Growth

Royal Parking has been enjoying smooth business operations and is considering enhancing its business use of technology that is in line with its business growth.

Ease of Use

There has been no significant development or changes required to either the native app or the back office web-based solution

Safe & Secure

The solution thus far has not been compromised

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