New Permit Management Solution Transforms Parking Arrangements at City Centre University

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A fully integrated virtual permit system and managed service from Open Parking.

A fully integrated virtual permit system and managed service from Open Parking has transformed parking provision at the University of Bradford. Staff and students of the internationally renowned university are now benefitting from much simplified permit application and allocation. And, according to Simon Duarri, the university’s Head of Facilities, Open Parking’s concerted approach has provided significant efficiency gains and service improvements for managing all parking facilities on the city centre campus.

“Balancing the needs of staff and students with a finite parking resource in the heart of a city has always posed quite a challenge,” he says. “The introduction of virtual permits and a hosted permit management solution has made a huge difference in every respect. Not only is it now much easier for staff and students to apply for a permit, but the issues that previously caused so many administrative headaches and parking contraventions have been fully addressed.”

With nearly 9000 students and over 1,600 members of staff, it is little wonder that the university’s 6 car parks and 820 parking spaces have come under so much pressure. Abuse of the parking facilities has been a major cause of concern despite the efforts of Simon Duarri and his team to maximise fairness and fulfill the university’s sustainability policies.


University of Bradford L – R Simon Duarri the university’s Head of Facilities, Sue Walters, the Campus Operations Manager, and Justin Waterhouse, Security Operations Manager.

The administrative complexity of assessing applications and issuing paper-based permits also led to seasonal peaks in workload at busy times for the university, resulting in long waits for students and staff to receive their permits at the start of the academic term. With the security team having to absorb additional responsibilities following a reduction in dedicated car parking staff, there was also a clear need to streamline activities to enable easier and faster enforcement.

Such issues have been overcome since the introduction of Open Parking’s PermitSmarti system as it provides a convenient self-serve portal for staff and students.  By automating the process, it has also enabled more effective, efficient and disciplined enforcement measures to be taken.  And the administrative tasks at both ends of the enforcement process have been outsourced to Open Parking to provide further efficiency gains. Handling enquiries and reviewing permit applications from staff and students, the issue of virtual permits, online payments and PCN processing are all now undertaken by Open Parking’s Business Processing Unit in Northampton.

Every shift of the university’s 24 strong security workforce has also been trained and equipped with handheld terminals and printers featuring Open Parking’s Rialto management software to verify vehicle permits and issue Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) for any contraventions. The team is also benefitting from Open Parking’s ScanSmarti system.  This enables vehicle registrations simply to be scanned for automatic permit verification during the patrols of the campus car parks.

 The new system went live for student permits in August 2018 in advance of the standard permit renewal date at the start of the academic year and staff permits followed suit in January 2019, although the new system enables permit renewal at any time of the year.  Now, any applicant simply needs to register and set up a personal account to obtain a virtual permit on line, and automatic renewal notifications are sent in advance of the expiry date. 

 There are a large number of different permit types from full-time and part-time staff to car share and electric vehicles as well as accessible parking permits for individuals with restrictive health conditions. Temporary parking vouchers are also issued to visitors and contractors working on the campus using Open Parking’s VoucherSmarti system and senior staff have the option to reserve their own parking bay. Both salary-deductible and direct payment options are available for the £235 annual staff permits and eligibility criteria are applied if the volume of permit applications exceeds expectations.

 The new approach for campus parking will prove particularly beneficial for patients and visitors in the university’s Digital Health Enterprise Zone as a permit can linked to a designated visitor bay and issued in advance.  Consequently, less mobile patients will no longer need to sign in and return to their car with a paper-based permit. Looking to capitalise on the versatility of Open Parking’s solution, a pilot scheme is also underway to assess the viability of future partnerships with neighbouring businesses to maximise occupancy and generate income from campus parking spaces in the evenings and at weekends. 

 “Working with Open Parking has made the world of difference to our parking operations,” says the university’s Campus Operations Manager, Sue Walters.  “As the new system is hosted by Open Parking, the administrative peak workloads during September and January have been outsourced and will be spread out over a longer period.  The database is also externally hosted and all software updates and upgrades are automatic.  As a result, there is far less risk of any software issue and less internal staff time needed during upgrades, so the solution is far more resilient. And anyone receiving a Parking Charge can now view evidence, appeal or simply pay online on the Open Parking website.

 “As pressure on capacity grows, the new arrangements will enable us to address the inevitable conflicts that can arise between different groups of people who require parking, as the collected data will enable us to apply rationing criteria that reinforce our reputation as a progressive and green campus university.”

 “Effective parking management must evolve to reflect the changing circumstances and priorities of organisations like the University of Bradford,” adds Open Parking’s Sharon Silcock. “PermitSmarti provides the flexibility and responsiveness to do just that and our managed service takes away all of the administrative hassle from the university and ensures effective permit management and enforcement processing at all times.  Such a comprehensive and disciplined solution will certainly help the university to manage the inevitable additional parking pressures that will arise when the university’s internationally acclaimed School of Management relocates to the main city centre campus in the summer.”

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University of Bradford Nigel Redmond one of the university’s security team carrying out parking enforcement duties on the campus.

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