Upgrade of Parking Systems Begins for South Africa's Airports
Airports Company of South Africa Ltd (ACSA), a partially state-owed airport management firm, has commenced the phased implementation of its ‘National Parking Initiative,’ a program entailing both short and long-term upgrading of parking management systems at all its nine principal airports.
The upgrading program is a follow up to ACSA’s 2017 assessment of parking management systems at all its airports that revealed “serious operational challenges owing to the age of the systems and also problems of support and maintenance.”
For some of the airports, ACSA’s program brief says, the “support and maintenance component is currently non-existent and the service providers only support systems that are still under warranty.”
“Furthermore, several systems have reached end of useful life and need to be replaced due to obsolescence,” ACSA says.
Despite parking revenues constituting up to 19 percent, a third after retail and property rental, of its non-aeronautical revenue, ACSA says nearly all its airports lack support and maintenance contracts to support the existing Pay on Foot (POF) systems.
Moreover, the airports have no contracts for supply parking system consumables especially spares while the automatic pay stations and associated or related infrastructure such as intercom and booms “are plagued with intermittent and frequent operational and technical failures.”
In early August 2022, ACSA announced commencement of the ACSA parking management system upgrading to enable parking consumers use chip, PIN debit and credit card payments at the pay stations and at the exits hence allowing them to tap and go.
The upgraded PMS will also facilitate the issuance of change in form of notes and coins.
“While we transition to the new system, the project has been phased to ensure minimal disruption to operations and our airport users,” ACSA said.
The upgrading of the PMS is expected to be completed in soon with motorists currently accessing the airport encouraged to use the multi-story parkade for pick-up with a free parking offer of 20 minutes.
ACSA says KSIA’s tentative support and maintenance program is meant to stabilize operations “given that the National Parking initiative will take some time to be implemented owing to project governance and procurement processes.”
In the long-term, ACSA says, the parking management systems at all South Africa airports will be replaced with state-of-the-art systems as is currently ongoing at KSIA.
The national parking initiative, with total costs that could not immediately be confirmed by ACSA, would ensure alignment with the company’s information technology strategy, and new operating model and “radically convert to a new model by standardizing all airport systems as well as consolidating and coalescing all (parking) contracts under the umbrella of one service provider.”
Modernization of KSIA’s parking management systems targets upgrading of key sub-systems such as POF, inclusive of intercom, license plate recognition (LPR), variable message signage, as well as bay detection.
The project scope entails the entire, associated components and peripherals of the POF, intercom, LPR, Bay detection and VMS systems.
Alongside the upgrading of KSIA parking management system, ACSA is also carrying out associated civil works and reconfigurations on the various parking facilities including the pick-up zone parking, ground transport staging parking, ground transport zone parking and at entrance number six to the airport’s multi-story parking.
ACSA says KSIA’s entrance equipment at the ground transport zone and the ground transport staging area “will only allow entry by means of long and short-range radio frequency identification (RFID) reader incorporating Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, chip and pin card, tap and pay technology and automatic license plate recognition” and will not require a magnetic stripe ticket dispenser.
Replacing Equipment and Infrustructure
The KSIA parking upgrading works will see all parking exit lanes equipped with a double barrier arm system to prevent tail-gating, with the exception of the ground transport zone that will be equipped with a single barrier arm while two additional pay stations will be added to the multi-story parking facility ground floor area (level 0) according to ACSA.
The airport operator company explains that the ground transport vehicle zone and ground transport staging area entry lanes will only allow access to users registered on the central POF system through wireless contact card (RFID card, MiFare or similar), automatic license plate recognition, debit or credit card, long range and short-range RFID tags.
Currently, ACSA says the elevated road area of the parking “has a barrier arm that is in very poor condition.”
“The barrier arm is to be replaced with a new, quick open and closing barrier arm that will be a standalone device and not be connected to the POF central system,” ACSA says. The barrier arm will be operated with the help of a push button and a remote-control receiver and transmitter with a range of at least 50 meters fitted into the arm.
Furthermore, ACSA explains that the elevated road’s equipment such as the entry station and boom, ANPR entry, as well as exists for the station, boom and ANPR, will be linked to the parking management system for ease of access to users registered on the central POF system through wireless contact card (RFID card, MiFare or similar), automatic license plate recognition, debit or credit card, long range and short-range RFID tags.
Currently, KSIA has a shaded parking facility with 1,500 shaded bays adjacent to the main airport terminal building and is equipped with LPR systems at all entry points. The shaded parking is largely used by short term parking service consumers “because the rates cater for one to three-day parking needs therefore guaranteeing customers get lower, cost-effective rates,” according to information on the KSIA website.
The airport also has a multi-story parking facility offering premium parking options with at least 1,540 underground parking bays distributed over three levels that fitted with CCTV cameras, license plate recognition systems as well as automated by means of a ticket upon entry and payment on exit. There are 18 disabled parking bays in total within the multi-story parkade.
The ongoing upgrading of KSIA parking management system is expected to bring a new parking experience that would draw more customers to airport’s parking bays in the long term.
Shem Oirere is PT’s editor on the ground in Africa. He can be reached at Shem@shemoirere.com