Fleet management over the next 12 months is set to look significantly more digitalised as technological services improve automation and convenience. For fleet managers, having one holistic app-based solution will prove key, as it will streamline management of logistics, billing and tracking of vehicle fleets in a single space.
With apps in mind, I am looking at the next 12 months to predict the ways transport will change for the better, the ways automation and technology will improve fleet management, and how apps will play an integral role in radically shifting the needle toward enhanced mobility.
1. There will be more competition in the market and app choice for fleets
The opening of the market to competition outside of the confines of the traditional single-supplier model will begin to gather momentum, and this will mean a wider choice of preferred apps for fleets. Across a fleet, vehicles on long or short-haul journeys moving in between boroughs, councils and counties can benefit from the availability of multiple transport solutions. Traditionally, drivers have been limited to a single app choice when it comes to parking, but rollout of vendor-inclusive models in local areas means less hassle downloading or redownloading apps.
In 2022, Open Market pilots in Manchester City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, using the DfT-funded National Parking Platform, showed that it is possible to have multiple providers competing at the same location, bringing more choice and reliability to motorists and councils alike. And now, new entrants that provide services outside of the parking ecosystem will come into play.
With motorists free to use their app of choice this will reduce costs to the motorist and increase digitisation. Evidence from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP), who made the move to multiple cashless parking providers in 2021, shows that digital penetration grew by more than 250% over 2 years with the introduction of multiple phone parking providers so app parking now accounts for more than 55% of all parking transactions. This is a trend that I expect to see grow, as more authorities adopt the Open Market construct.
The unprecedented growth of 5G, outpacing 3G and 4G uptake, represents the quickest generational rollout for the mobile industry. As 5G is setting new standards of hyperfast connectivity and its star is rising, 3G is fading into obsolescence, which will cause trickle-down effects that mark significant changes in the way we park.
Network providers will be retiring band services, and as this happens hardware will be affected. In parking, chip and pin services for payment reliant on 3G modem hardware will stop working. 3G sunsetting presents challenges for physical payment methods, and potentially costly upgrades to machines to stay connected. Many people are still unaware of these changes, as 79% of people have no idea that the 3G network is being phased out, according to a 2020 survey.
App-based solutions will remain unaffected by network alterations, as these services rely on device connectivity to mobile networks across 4G, 5G, or IVR for those paying via phone call. This will make apps more attractive to Councils in terms of managing parking, as well as for fleets, who will want to avoid drivers being delayed by 3G alterations. Apps circumvent many challenges and I predict they will be more attractive to Councils, operators and fleets in 2023.
3. App-based services combatting logistical and financial challenges for fleets
Traditionally, with fleet drivers using physical infrastructure to pay for parking, there could be a myriad of different forms for billing journeys. A backlog of old receipts could spell headache for managers, but now app-based solutions housing billing tools under one roof make the job far easier.
For fleets, a centralised billing system attached to an app simplifies admin and reduces expenses for managers, with suites of insight and reporting tools capable of giving a bird’s eye view of fleet costs. An app can reduce the amount of time to administer parking-related expense claims, help drivers avoid parking fines with SMS reminders for extending parking sessions, all while giving details access to reporting and invoices, to manage a whole group of individual users within seconds.
In 2023, I predict more fleet managers taking up apps for financial convenience, as the process for billing becomes slicker and more efficient to oversee from start to finish.
4. There will be a shift from manual to automatic services in transport
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen some great examples of automatic solutions for transport in the UK, with automatic number plate recognition technology playing a part in optimising parking payments. As adoption continues, more drivers will be able to benefit from touch-free solutions.
When travelling into a town or city centre, it’s often the process that motorists would locate a space, and pay for parking via an app. Should the motorist need more time, they can potentially top up their parking session via extending on the app. Collaboration between parking providers and operators means that camera technology can completely automate the process and charges are calculated separate to manual management.
Automatic payment facilitates touch-free entry and exit to parking facilities, and solutions are being trialled in the UK currently. The parking transaction starts and ends completely autonomously, bypassing pay machines. This is an initiative that can save time for fleets – leading to swift entry and exit of parking areas, and helping drivers avoid physical ticketing for parking sessions, which can reduce admin hassle for managers in the back office. In 2023 we will see an expansion of these high-quality technology solutions for drivers, allowing for new and exciting levels of convenience for urban travellers.
Looking at the horizon
In 2023 I believe we’ll see great strides made toward app uptake for fleets, with digital channels enabling better flow in transport. Transport service providers will look at becoming holistic one-stop shops, which presents new levels of convenience for fleet managers. The popularity of the likes of Uber and Lime attests to the fact that mindsets are already shifting towards service-based transport.
Within the microcosm of parking, providers are linking up mobility services for fleets and motorists using apps, and there will be scope to manage a journey in its entirety from one point of contact; mapping, location, payment, and charging services can be housed in one space. These benefits are ticks in the pro column for choosing apps, as they herald an age for more liveable towns and cities.
Author: Peter O’Driscoll, Managing Director, RingGo