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The Biggest Company You N

ing money from the city’s old mechanical meters. In 2002, the company provided a complete turnkey parking meter solution, including a central, integrated database, and, according to Dixon, a completely auditable system. “In ten years of Serco operat-

ing the system, the meter revenue increase was more than 400%. Of course there were rate increases but they locked down revenues, pro- cured meters with programmable smart locks, and ensured that every cent was collected. “We created customized routes

Carlos Chacon, Deputy Contract Manager, David Conrado, Bike Patrol Officer, Diogo Piacentini, Bike Patrol Officer and Julie Dixon, Serco’sWest Coast Operations Manager are part of the team that handles parking enforcement for the City ofWest Hollywood.

By John Van Horn

“We’re the biggest company you never heard of.” Julie Dixon, West Coast Operations Manager for Serco,

describes her employer.With over six billion in global sales, the company works behind the scenes with governments at every level to assist agencies with their outsourcing. According to the company’s web site, Serco “designs, deliv-

ers and manages change in markets as diverse as defense, trans- port, civil government, science and the private sector. It improves patient care with our health services; rehabilitates offend- ers in our prisons; protects borders through technology; provides swift, safe travel with our trains and transport systems; helps young people learn in the schools and train- ing centers it manages; it enables trade by the precise measurements undertaken by its scientists. “ Although the web site

for collection and by analyzing rev- enue day by day, meter by meter, we knew how much should be col- lected from each meter. We were able to determine when a meter was filling and ensure that a meter never went down because the vault was full. This kept us on top of the

revenues and ahead of the collection curve. “Because we evaluate the performance statistics, we were

able to concentrate our efforts where the impact was greatest. Rates were set based on usage, time, and day. For instance, by analyzing on street collections around San Francisco’s new ball park, we were able to implement rate changes that had a direct impact on revenue and space availability.” “We found that in many of our client cities, it was better to

Serco sees itself as a partner with each of its municipal customers. In West Hollywood, CA, they provide all on-street parking enforcement services.

doesn’t mention parking, Dixon notes that Serco is deeply involved in on-street revenue collection and enforcement in San Francisco,West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Chicago, and theWash- ington DC area. “We are a one stop shop that partners with vendors to devel-

op technology requested by the municipality,” says Dixon. “Often cities require solutions that don’t match a single vendor’s prod- uct.We provide specifications and then work with multiple ven- dors to reach a solution. SFpark in San Francisco is an example.” Serco has been with the city since 1994, and began by collect-


adjust time, rather than rates. For instance, provide free parking from 10 at night to 8 in the morning, rather than from 8 to 8. Revenue jumped, but the change was more politically acceptable,” said Dixon. When asked about the

new SFpark program and the changing of rates by day, by hour, and by location Dixon acknowledged the challenge. “It’s about information dis- semination, including brand- ing and signage. We have

worked with a marketing company, (Words Pictures Ideas in San Francisco) and a company that specializes in signage & graphics (Pictoform from Vancouver, BC) that explains complex concepts simply. Pictoform has worked with one Northwest city and increased the revenue by 22% simply by changing the signage. “We are fortunate that the people in the San Francisco area

are very information savvy. They use smart phones, are at ease with many web applications and seem to be aware of the changes taking place with the parking system. SFis working hard to com- municate the changes to the drivers in various high tech ways.

Parking Today

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