Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. With towering skyscrapers, hotels, casinos and shopping malls, the area has earned the nickname, ‘Las Vegas of Asia’. Despite establishing itself as an emerging megalopolis, until recently the region still used traditional coin-operated parking meters.
We spoke to Trent Loebel, CEO at Duncan Solutions, about his recent trip to Macau and the introduction of VX pay by space meters and PEMS (Parking Enterprise management system). Significantly, the inclusion of the new meters is heralding the transition from simple coin-only payments to electronic payments, offering improvements for motorists, parking police, maintenance staff and the parking management personnel.
The start of Duncan Solutions’ Macau journey
Over the course of two years, Duncan worked collaboratively with the local parking operations authority to understand their paid parking objectives and deliver the required solution. This culminated with an initial installation of 200 VX meters, the success of which means another 500 have been ordered, due for delivery in February 2017.
One of the significant benefits unique to Duncan Solutions is the use of certified payments capability developed in-house, in Australia. This capability within Duncan VX meters and PEMS can accept payment from the local Macau Pass card solution. Like the Oyster Card in London, Octopus Card in Hong Kong and the Opal Card in Sydney, Macau citizens use the card as a form of electronic payment for transportation plus to go shopping, buy lunch, buy coffee – just like a debit card that is tied in with transport.
“The people of Macau are now able to use that to pay for parking. It makes everything easier. As the rates increase for parking, which is happening all around the world, people just don’t carry enough cash for longer durations of parking. If they want to park for two hours, they’ll often not have enough cash in their pocket, which leads to frustration,” Trent said.
Customising the solution for local currency
One of the advantageous points of Duncan Solutions’ offer was the ability to customise the solution – not just for the local Macau Pass, but to facilitate China’s most popular credit and debit card service; China Union Pay (CUP).
“Competitors use off-the-shelf card-reader products, from large international providers. The benefit of having our own solution is that we can be nimble – we can fulfil customer requirements and contracts like the one in Macau. You can structure it to the place, and our solution can be customised to use any industry standards card type. The Macau Pass is a great real example of delivering that.”
When paired with PEMS, the collection, auditing and financial reporting of coins and electronic payments is streamlined, maintenance can be alerted to faulty meters and operational data can be relayed to management in real-time.
The legacy site there, is 100 per cent manual, so there are people walking around every day checking meters. If the old parking meter is full of cash you can’t use it, and then if anything goes wrong with one of the old meters, management must wait to get a phone call, and that requires a good citizen to call and tell them that. If a meter is out of service, you might walk to the next one or say ‘oh great, it’s not working, I don’t have to pay.
If the new parking meter has an issue, it communicates with PEMS, that gives [parking management] real-time visibility of everything happening in the site; whether they want financial information or operational information, they have that real-time at their fingertips.”
When the next 500 meters are installed by Duncan Solutions in early 2017, Macau will be one step closer to the future smart megalopolis it deserves to be – and well worth a visit.