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Sunderland to pilot ParkingPerx scheme

ByDave Stopher

Jan 29, 2017

SUNDERLAND people are being asked to take part in a survey to support the city’s plan to pioneer a unique free parking initiative.

The innovative ParkingPerx app, developed by North East company ProxiSmart, gives users the opportunity to earn rewards from participating retailers which can then be used to pay car parking charges.

And the hope is that once a pilot scheme is completed it will be rolled out across the city, in a bid to improve the local economy and deal with the perceived issues around parking.

The project is being jointly supported by Sunderland BID, Sunderland City Council and the Bridges which have worked closely with ProxiSmart boss, Chris Reed, to trial ParkingPerx in the city.

But before the pilot gets underway, people are being asked to participate in a survey about parking in Sunderland, with a certain number of those taking part then being asked to trial the app.

Anyone wanting to take part can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ParkingSunderland

Gemma Dishman, Marketing and Communications at Sunderland BID believes the app is a “game changer” for city centre shopping and will also prove a huge boost in combatting the trend to buy online.

“ParkingPerx does what the best apps do- makes life easier and provides valuable incentives to shop local,” she said.

“It uses an innovative new technology to tackle both real and perceived barriers to growth in the local economy and positively promotes loyalty to local businesses.”

She added, “And once the pilot is complete we hope that more and more retailers will get on board as it is a win/win for everyone. Shoppers can gather credits to use for their parking while merchants can use it as an opportunity to incentivise people to come in to the city centre.”

The award-winning app was developed by Chris Reed in just under a year and has already won huge praise for its innovation, including being a regional winner of KPMG’s Best British Mobile Startup awards. ProxiSmart have also been named as one of the Best 10 Tech Startups in the North at Tech North’s Northern Stars awards.

Chris said he chose Sunderland for the pilot “because of the innovative, forward thinking and support we’ve had from the BID, Sunderland City Council and the Bridges.”

The system uses Smart Beacon technology which sends smart messages to users when they park and shop. The app’s unique features include one touch parking and the ability to extend a stay in a car park without having to return to the car.

“Each retailer decides on what their offer or discount is going to be so the benefits will differ from shop to shop,” he said.

“And the shopper simply presents their phone at the till to claim their reward, just like existing contactless payments systems. The solution then awards the user their ParkingPerx which they can use as a credit to pay for their parking fees.”

Cllr Michael Mordey, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for City Services, is confident the app will help drive retail in the city.

“Sunderland has a wide range of shopping and leisure attractions and this app is an opportunity and incentive to remind people about buying locally and supporting their community,” he said.

The benefits are not just restricted to the shoppers, with merchants having a measurable way to increase footfall and spending in their stores, with an added benefit for car park operators, who can reduce their operating costs, while at the same time increase their occupancy rates with the offer of free parking.