I think it’s fair to say we’re a company that’s obsessed with the kerb, and the potential it has to improve the way our towns and cities operate. It’s why we come into work each day, chomping at the bit to ship our next product or feature. Listening to enthusiastic feedback from our customers, local authorities and motorists alike, keeps us focused on delivering and delighting them each day.

But we do ask ourselves, is it immediately obvious how the kerb can be a catalyst for rejuvenating the Great British High Street?  We’re not pro-car, we’re pro-kerb and pro-customer enhancing experiences that drive sustainable efficiencies. In this article, we’ll delve into what we mean by a thriving future for local high streets and how we’re supporting local authorities with accessing government opportunities, like the Future High Streets Fund or Future Mobility Zone investment.

We’re obviously a bit biased. But we genuinely believe kerbs are the key to a better urban life for us all – socially, commercially and physically. The problem is, kerbs haven’t changed physically for centuries. Yet the way we use them has. The explosion of ride-hailing and the huge popularity of home deliveries are hitting local authorities with a one-two punch that many high streets are still reeling from.  

Closed down BHS store

On one side, kerbside infrastructure is under increasing pressure, with congestion, pollution and safety concerns on the rise. And this comes at a time when the high street can ill afford more reasons for shoppers to be put off. Shoppers increasingly think, why should I run the risk of getting stuck in traffic or not finding a parking space in town, when with a single click online, I can buy almost anything I want and have it delivered to my house the next day?

This is why we’re fully committed to supporting local authorities with a novel approach to compete with the optimised convenience of online shopping. We do this by obsessing about the user experience – in our case, how motorists find, navigate to and pay for parking. If we can make parking as seamless as Amazon make shopping, we can start to make the local retail experience more convenient and appealing. We understand the power of big data too, so we provide powerful analytics, helping authorities evaluate the full 24/7 lifecycle of kerbside demand and revenue performance.

We brought our thinking and technology together earlier this year, when we launched the world’s first fully integrated, on and off-street smart parking solution in Harrogate. Our Smart City Parking scheme saw sensors installed in each parking bay across town and in every car park. Motorists can now see real-time availability of spaces in our app, helping them save time and drive fewer miles when coming into town. The sensors also enable Insights, our analytics portal, used by our partner local authorities, Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council to better understand and optimise their parking assets.

By tackling the pain of parking from both sides, we’re not only transforming the experience for users, but also giving the local parking and traffic teams the data driven insights they need to inform for future policy making.

Users in Harrogate are already enjoying the benefit. After a parking session we ask them to complete a survey, and compared to using existing pay and display machines:

21

save time finding a space

67

find it less stress than displaying a ticket

89

find it more convenient than pay & display

43

say they stayed longer in Harrogate as they didn't worry about their ticket expiring

This is compelling feedback for councils who are evaluating ways to encourage visitors back to their local high streets. Who doesn’t want to improve visibility of available parking spaces in a free to use mobile app? Who doesn’t want visitors to be less stressed about their parking ticket expiring and therefore be more likely to stay longer in their town?  

It’s this sort of result we’re passionate about bringing to more towns and cities across the UK.  Halifax motorists will soon be able to find and pay for parking with our AppyParking app, with Portsmouth close behind. 

Our TaaS award win for our Harrogate project and recently being named as the 2nd most disruptive company in the UK are testament to the passionate work we’re putting in to drive positive outcomes across the country.

We’re also supporting a number of authorities with their proposals for accessing the Future High Streets Fund and as part of their submissions for Future Mobility Zones. We’re uncovering more use cases for our smart sensors, with car-sharing, car-pooling and EV bay management integrations all configurable to align with council strategy.

The opportunities are vast, and we love nothing more than understanding the challenges local authorities face and working with them to tailor tangible and innovative strategies and bids where we can bring our technology and experience to bear. We believe that by arming local authorities with future-proofed, innovative solutions we are transforming the humble kerb into a valuable, dynamic commodity. And unlocking the vast power within in a way that improves experiences for residents, businesses, councils and high streets alike.

Learn more about our Govtech platform – AppyKerb here.

If you’re working on a funding bid and would like to speak to our City Partnerships team, get in touch here.