There's plenty of parking options on Isle of Palms, from metered spots to attended lots, but there's never been a way to pay for it all from your smartphone. Now, the city is adopting an app as another option to make the parking experience more convenient.
This month the Public Safety Committee and council agreed to implement the app Flowbird. The Paris-based app is designed to make travel "simpler, safer and faster." The city's goal is to alleviate parkers from having to physically feed meters and provides an eco-friendly paperless process that requires no physical proof of receipt.
"Now that everything is moving to more technology based, it's just becoming the norm for people to pay from the phone," said councilmember Ryan Buckhannon, Public Safety Committee chair. "Hopefully it will create less problems."
Buckhannon says the app is particularly ideal for beachgoers who aren't sure how long they want to stay at the beach. He says it's convenient and flexible by cutting down on the man hours for both users and parking staff.
"It is a cool app used in other cities," said Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll. The city believes it's the next step in helping optimize traffic, especially during the peak months of beach season.
Flowbird requires users to input their license plate information so that beach service officers can monitor the payment status electronically. Also, the app is compatible with city's kiosks and with the Isle of Palms Police Department's enforcement app, according to Interim Police Chief Kim Usry.
The price to park will remain the same; however, the app comes with a 35 cent fee for users of which the city will collect 10 cents per transaction. The added cost could potentially deter some customers, but the city feels the accessibility factor will create attraction. Regardless all current paying methods for parking will remain in effect.
The company has offered to provide ambassadors who would be on the streets to introduce the app's usage to the public. Usry stated that when the app is available for street use the department would initially like assistance from ambassadors due to the high volume of visitors this time of year.
The city is waiting for its treasurer to work out some depositing kinks so the app will function with the city's accounting system, according to Buckhannon.
The city plans to roll out the app by Memorial Day weekend. Signage will be posted appropriately in designated areas along Ocean Boulevard once launched.