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Don't fight the cistern: Voda takes the plunge with plumbers’ parking app

Drivexone box means OBD-II is the car's port for Pimlico

The Vodafone bright ideas department, xone, has been testing its car-tracking system with a plumbing company in London, potentially saving the pipe/washer-related enterprise "£100,000 a year".

It’s the job of xone to tinker with new technology and then work out how to sell it. The Drivexone is a device which contains a GSM modem, and some GPS and motion sensors.

It plugs into a car’s OBD-II port, designed for car diagnostics and links back to a Voda's Global Service Data Platform (GSDP) server. This is similar to the systems deployed by insurance companies in insurance schemes for teenagers.

Vodafone is using it to help with parking in Pimlico, near Victoria in central London. It is working with Westminster City Council and Pimlico Plumbers to build and test a system which is believed to be the world’s first “One Click Parking” payment system for vehicles.

During the one-month trial of the latest AppyParking app and Vodafone xone’s Drivexone, Pimlico Plumbers' drivers found it was quicker and easier to find and pay for parking spaces in central London.

Westminster has sensors in its parking bays which know when they are empty. AppyParking then uses an API to inform a smartphone app, that shows drivers where spaces were available in real time.

"This app has the potential to save Pimlico Plumbers £100,000 a year. It will also improve efficiency and save time, all of which will benefit the service we provide to our customers," said Charlie Mullins, CEO and founder of Pimlico Plumbers.

“Time is money at the end of the day and getting two or three tickets a month isn’t uncommon," said Peter Hillier, an engineer at Pimlico Plumbers who took part in the trial. "Sometimes just getting a parking spot feels like a full-time job and the working man really doesn’t need the hassle. I found AppyParking very simple to use, allowing me to quickly park up and focus on my job.”

Pimlico plumbers use app to make parking easier

Vodafone parking app screenshot

Once parked, all the driver needs to do is click once within AppyParking to start the parking session. At the end of the session, the driver can simply drive away, after which they receive an email receipt to confirm the time and charges. This means that drivers using AppyParking and Drivexone are only charged for the actual time parked.

The AppyParking app also enables the driver to see if they are in the congestion zone, discover the hours of restrictions and see the hourly rate.

“In essence, Drivexone turns any car into a sensor and will provide drivers with a range of diagnostic data about their journeys, as well as enabling innovative applications like this one," said Americo Lenza, head of xone.

"It’s great to see Drivexone used for this innovative trial, which shows the potential to improve the parking experience for both consumers and businesses," he added.

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