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Sydney cars to park in the Cloud

Sydney cars to park in the Cloud

Aussie transaction processing company Mercurion will kick of a virtualized parking transaction system in an inner Sydney carpark

Australian transaction processing company, Mercurion, has signalled plans to trial a car monitoring system in a Sydney metropolitan carpark based on Telstra's 'Silver Lining' Cloud.

Mercurion chief executive, Michael Graham, told Computerworld Australia the aim in developing the platform was to assist the road transport sector, particularly in parking and tolling, to ease congestion and clarify parking availability.

The technology, conceptualised by the company’s chief technology officer, Phillip Haynes, over a ten-year period, uses high definition video to capture features of a vehicle to provide a “digital signature” as opposed to relying solely on parking tickets. With this the company can match vehicles to the carpark exit to keep tabs on when a car enters the bay, how long it has been there and the cost of leaving the carpark.

According to Graham, the system would be cost-effective to install using one back office and affordable devices at the front end.

“In parking everyone is using tickets, there’s no record of whether a customer has come in it’s all based on the ticket, and there’s one system per site so it’s a hardware sale," he said. "People buy the ticket machines, they buy the barrier and every time they construct a new site they’ve got to go through that whole process.

“What we’re doing is essentially virtualising the ticket by lifting the digital fingerprint from the car and our system has sufficient capacity to run multiple sites across Australia.”

The data will be stored on Telstra's (ASX:TLS) secretive infrastructure-as-a-platform service, codenamed 'Silver Lining', under a memorandum of understanding signed with the parking software vendor.

“It’s all networked and straight through processing in real time, straight into the banking infrastructure,” he said. “We have one back office located in Artarmon that runs multiple assets and we’re obviously building the data capability to adhere to that.”

Users are able to pay for their parking in numerous ways including on foot at a designated machine or by credit card. They will also, as is the case with current ticketing systems, be given a grace period following payment to exit the carpark.

Though Graham wouldn't reveal the location of the carpark trial, it has been in negotiations to aid North Sydney Council under a separate project.

The project could also apply under the same principles to toll roads, Graham said.

“Essentially on any individual toll road there’s a full back office siting on each site as well as the devices that need to sit on the road side,” he said. “What we’re doing is developing a Cloud-based back office to process those transactions which will run at sufficient volumes to cope with multiple assets at a time and what you end up with is a single office built across multiple sites and that makes it cheaper.”

The company has pitched the technology to customers in the local council areas trying to manage their off-street parking, to airports to understand how often people return to the carparks and whether there’s the potential for a loyalty program for frequent parkers. There are also negotiations with shopping centre owners so people can potentially register their car for promotions which can be delivered via a mobile when they visit the centre.

“At the site there’s always a fairly powerful desktop personal computer which acts as the local backup should there be an outage and then we’ve got redundancy sites so that we can store data locally and then process it once the machine comes back up but because the system sits in the Cloud multiple redundancies are built into it.”

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags CloudvirtualisationvirtualizationTelstra Cloudparking systemMercurion

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