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Web-Based Validations E 22 BY JOHN VAN HORN

VERYTHING THESE DAYS SEEMS to be web-based.You use your Internet browser to do everything, whether it’s sending an e-mail or viewing amovie. If it’s “web-based,” it’s the cat’s pajamas.

A number of companies have created applications that use

the internet to validate parking in off-street locations.What are the benefits?Howcan these help? Let’s explore some of theways. Virtual validation works like this: The parking revenue control systemmust be fully online and

real-time. Bar-coded parking tickets are issued at the entry gate. The driver takes the ticket to the office or store that would issue the validation, and it then either scans the ticket using a bar-code scanner or enters the number into a browser-based program. This validation program is run by means of “cloud comput-

ing.” That is, it is run on a central server connected by the Inter- net to each company that has purchased validations and to the parking control equipment in the building in question. The local computer sends the validation and ticket infor-

mation to the central system, which deducts the validation amount from the validator’s account and then tells the parking control equipment that the ticket has been validated. The park- ing control equipment then either lets the ticket out if it were a 100% validation or refigures the rate and charges the appropri- ate lower amount. Neat, huh? But all this is just the beginning.The central programis actu-

ally a complex accounting program that tracks validations a cus- tomer has purchased; ensures only the appropriate validations are


put on the right tickets; and logs each transaction so the customer and the facility owner can know exactly who is validating and howmuch. When talking to the application suppliers, you find theworld

of validations can getmurky. Parking operators sell validation stamps for cash. Stamps

can be lost, over-used or forgotten. Each of these problems for the customer can be a boon for the operator.They don’t set out to take advantage of the customer, but these facts all benefit the operator and hence the facility owner. Many times the receptionist, say, or person validating the

ticket will put more stamps on the ticket than necessary. That costs the tenantmoney. Parking Today was told the story of a large law firm that

validated parking in a huge complex in Los Angeles. It spent thousands a month on validations. The firm knew that they were out of control but didn’t know what to do about it. A virtual validation program that tracks each validation and

provides a log of each transaction allowed this lawfirmcustomer to audit validation usage and reduce costs by 40%. Good news for them, butmaybe not so good for the building owner. The application designers had to take the needs of the own-

ers into account.Many ask that validations not be sold as money but as individual stamps. If a customer runs out of, say, one-hour validations, they must use all-day ones until they replenish the supply.The programmust be flexible enough to take into account these real-world situations. “One of the major benefits of this type of (validation) sys-

tem,” saysTimFlanagan of SentryControl Systems in SunValley, CA, supplier of an application called E-Val, “is that every build-

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