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ing is already wired. Each office has high-speed Internet in and ready to go. Installing hard-wired validators can be costly. “In addition, there is no software to install locally,” he

says. “If you have an Internet browser, you can begin immedi- ately to validate tickets. USB handheld bar-code scanners are very inexpensive, and if the number of tickets being validated is low, the customer can forgo the scanner and simply enter the ticket number into the browser screen.” So-called datamining is another benefit of a virtual vali-

dation system. Hospitals, for example, can get “where they went and how long they stayed” information. However, other types of organizations may find this information a little too “Big Brother” and request that the data kept be limited. “You have to be cognizant of your customer and know their needs and desires when you present the features,” Flanagan adds. This validation system is a real benefit to the operator,

most say. The tenant can order validation stamps and have them immediately. There is no need to buy, inventory and deliver the stamps. “I know a location in LosAngeles where one person spent half their time delivering validation stamps all over the six-building campus,” he says. As hardware catches up with the software, handheld

devices such as BlackBerrys and PDAs can become validation machines.Many have built-in bar-code scanners and Internet browsers. A building manager could validate tickets as he walks around the facility, each validation tracked and logged. “Despite efforts to remind customers with well-placed

signage, there will still be customers who forget to bring their tickets with them, notes JeffVandeford, of Innovative Parking Concepts, another company that has provided an application calledVAL-eeze, “the tenant also has the option to print the validation from their office printer (with their account being debited the same amount as if they scanned customer’s ticket). The parker then applies discount by scanning this serialized barcode at the exit devices, which are equipped with third- party barcode scanners.” Validation programs can cause conflict between tenant,

operator and building management.When approaching each of them, their particular desiresmust be known, Flanagan says. The building manager wants to provide excellent service

to his tenants. The more technology that can be brought to bear on certain costly issues such as parking validation, the better for themanager. The tenant may not understand the issues of validation.

They are used to simply buying stamps and putting them on tickets.They often don’t understand the problems of over-val- idating or the costs involved in running out of one-hour stamps and using all-day stamps instead. The operator is concerned about all of the above, plus the

fact that they, and the ownership, benefit when validation stamps are lost orwhen awell-meaning but unknowing recep- tionist over-validates a parking ticket. The companies providing virtual systems need to be

aware of all these issues and tread carefully in the minefield that can be parking validations.

Tim Flanagan is President of Sentry Control Systems in California. He can be reached through

Jeff Vandevort is CEO of Innovative Parking Concepts in Georgia. He can be reached through

John Van Horn is the editor of Parking Today.

PT See us at the IPI booth #938

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