A smart parking service for London by Ford
Parking in cities is a major pain point for drivers. It’s also a major cause of congestion. As both cities and cars get smarter there has to be a better way. We worked with Ford in the London borough of Islington to deliver GoPark. It’s now a live service that’s expanded to 10 other boroughs to date.
Cities of the future need better mobility solutions.
Ford has been exploring ways to innovate, to ensure they’re relevant in a future where cars are connected and smart. They’re especially interested in working in partnership with cities, helping them tackle challenges like congestion and pollution while providing a valuable service to those who need to get from A to B.
Go Park is a Ford Smart Mobility project looking at urban mobility. Its initial focus was one London borough, but the ambition for expansion and potential for real impact globally was clear.
The goals of the pilot project were to make parking simpler for drivers, easier to manage for the borough and define a model that could scale.
One size doesn’t fit all. Understanding different needs to drive adoption.
We recruited over 80 local residents and worked with them over the 18 month project period. We gained an understanding of their different needs and designed a service that truly responded to them. This work included home interviews, prototyping sessions, drive along trips, usability tests and shadowing use of live prototypes.
For the app to work we needed a critical mass of drivers in an area to sign up. To get people to engage we needed to provide different kinds of value for the different types of people. Through our research, we came to understand that some people have very carefree attitudes to fines – planning a trip to avoid them wouldn’t occur to them. Others were motivated by the fact that the data they provided would be helping the council to instigate better town planning and traffic controls. We developed different features for these very different types of people to maximise adoption and value to them.
Focus on collaboration
To run the pilot we needed to simulate and test the live service. Livework was responsible for orchestrating the customer experience across the multi-channel service. This covered digital, telephony and at car interactions as well as a back-end system. We managed relationships with a large number of stakeholders from Islington council to the app developer and the supplier of the plug-in device which needed to be installed in cars. Users that applied needed to be vetted and supported through the process and this was done by a call centre that we also needed to liaise with during all stages of the project. There were also advertising and marketing agencies and a government affairs agency. We also worked with the contractors who deliver parking enforcement service. Both the on-the-beat parking attendants and the backstage, developers of the app. A large part of the project was coordinating all these elements of service delivery, ensuring that the user would stay at the core of the service.
When we progressed from the pilot to delivering the live end to end service, the alignment we’d created between all the parties necessary to deliver it was integral to the project’s success.
Driving and parking in London is getting smarter
The success of the Go Park pilot was centred on ensuring that the service was designed to appeal to all the varying needs of Islington residents. To do this we designed different value propositions that would encourage adoption across the borough. Success then required demonstrating value in the pilot aligning multiple partners to deliver a seamless customer experience. The fact that the service has now been rolled out to a further 10 London boroughs* is a testament to its success.
*Go Park is currently available in: Camden, City of London, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, and Westminster, with Tower Hamlets to be added soon. https://gopark.io/