Parking companies innovate to help hospitals through COVID-19 pandemic

Published: 15-Jun-2020

Technology helps to reduce cross contamination and improve the experience for staff and patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on health services.

But one potential problem area trusts may not have considered is parking!

With car use on the rise as people try to avoid the risks associated with public transport, competition for parking spaces at hospitals and health centres is rife.

And this is where modern technology can help.

Simon Jarvis, managing director of parking solutions provider, WPS, said: “Different healthcare clients are taking a varied approach to the current crisis, and we are finding that a ‘one size fits all’ strategy doesn’t apply and there is no ‘right or wrong’ way of managing our way through the current crisis. “In fact, there is a wide diversity of opinion among NHS trusts as to how they can best support local priorities.”

Some trusts are switching to raised barriers and temporarily moving to free parking, primarily due to concerns around possible virus transfer at pay stations.

Others, especially hospitals in urban environments, believe that parking should be monitored and restricted to protect spaces needed for patients and essential workers.”

Jarvis said: “Modern technologies and solutions are helping to mitigate COVID-19 challenges facing hospital trusts with respect to their parking facilities.”

To help address the cross-contamination risk associated with using pay stations, WPS has created a touchless parking system where customers can pay for carpark use without physically touching a machine.

Jarvis said: “WPS has launched a set of upgrades for its existing Pay-on-Foot ParkAdvance system clients to mitigate issues around possible virus-transfer at barrier terminals and pay stations. It facilitates a touchless parking journey from arrival to departure.

“The solution includes a replacement touchless infrared ticket printer button for entry terminals, where the customer just waves their hand in front of the new sensor and the ticket is issued without pressing to avoid any possible virus transfer.

“Pay stations can also be upgraded to touchless with the installation of a new surface-mounted, optical ticket scanner.

“Instead of inserting a ticket and receiving it back - with a possible risk of virus cross contamination between successive customer tickets - users can now wave their ticket barcode in front of the optical scanner which reads a ticket without it needing to be inserted. The payment can then be made using existing contactless payment card readers to complete the touchless experience.”

WPS’s high-accuracy Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology can also be added and coupled with cashless payment apps.

“Our futureproof parking system is showing its strength in adapting to meet changing needs associated with COVID-19”, said Jarvis. “At the present time our industry can help to create solutions that keep our car parks fully operational while creating a safe, touchless journey for all users.”

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