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Berlin tests first ticket-free

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February 14, 2005

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Munich/Berlin, Feb 15, 2005 Later this month, Berlin will become the first German city to start using ticket-free "mobile-phone parking". For a trial period of one year, the Berlin districts Mitte, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Tempelhof-Schoneberg will be trying out an alternative to the parking meter designed to make parking more convenient for the user. There'll be no need to make your way to the ticket machine, and no need to search for change. You can park as long as you like, and you won't have to pay until you leave, when you will be charged for every three minutes that you've parked. The Berlin local governments will benefit as well, as monitoring car parks will be easier and more money will flow into the city coffers. Siemens Business Services will be operating the service in cooperation with Mobile Parking GmbH and T-Mobile.

This is how it works: drivers register their mobile-phone number, their car registration number and their bank details on the internet under www.handy-parken.de. They then receive an individual permit by post, which they stick on the inside of the windscreen. And that's all there is to it.

They then simply ring an 0800 free-phone number with the mobile phone that they've registered, and receive prompt confirmation by call-back. When they've finished parking, they repeat the process with a second 0800 free-phone number. Alternatively, they can send an SMS to the 0800 number - simply using "S" for start and "E" for end. They will then receive a confirmation SMS.

As a result, drivers no longer have to depend on parking machines and car-parking tickets, parking times can be calculated accurately to within three minutes, and there's no need to worry about extending the parking time. At the same time, there's no risk of getting a "parking ticket" because you've exceeded the time that you've paid for.

You simply pay at the end of the month by direct debit. And it goes without saying that drivers will still be able to use the familiar car-parking tickets and parking meters as well as the new mobile-phone solution.

Checks are carried out as follows. The inspector stands in front of the parked vehicle, enters the permit details with the encoded vehicle registration number by camera mobile phone (Siemens SX1), transmits the encoded data via GPRS to the Siemens Business Services data center and, a few seconds later, receives a message back on his or her mobile phone confirming whether the driver of the vehicle has registered.

The new service may also pay its way for Berlin City's finances, because, in future, the entire process - including the sale of tickets, monitoring, and any parking fines that may be levied - can be dealt with electronically, and the amounts deducted can be posted straight to the SAP system or other accounting systems being used by the local government bodies.

There will no longer be any need to list the summonses for parking offences or the amounts taken at ticket machines and parking meters. Up to now, these have had to be submitted manually to the city's accounting department. In the long run, fewer ticket machines will have to be set up and maintained - and payment practice among drivers will be improved.

In Vienna and ten other Austrian cities, Siemens Business Services is already operating a mobile-parking solution which is regularly used by more than 50,000 people. Siemens Business Services and T-Mobile carried out the test project through Mobile Parking GmbH, in close cooperation with the Berlin Senate Administration for Urban Development and the various district offices. The project is subsidized by the EU as part of the CIVITAS initiative.

In general, payments by mobile phone are booming. Experts like Arthur D. Little expect that, in three years, mobile-phone users throughout the world will be paying at least ten times as much by mobile phone as they did in 2003. This would mean an increase in mobile-payment sales from 3.2 billion dollars in 2003 to 37.1 billion in 2008. According to Arthur D. Little, there will be a particularly sharp increase in the use of the mobile phone to purchase car-parking and travel tickets.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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