Finding a suitable parking spot in Dubai Mall is a challenging task. With the immense surface to cater to, the mall parking comprises three sections, each with seven floors, all of which are eagerly consumed by the many visitors at any point of the day.
However, now selecting the right location to find a spot will be easier. Dubai Mall is the first mall to link its services to the parking app of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). A simple click will present the visitor with his best chances.
“The app now includes Dubai Mall parking as an option,” explained Maitha bin Adai , CEO of Traffic and Road Agency. “When you click on it, the three parking entrances will appear: Cinema Parking, Fashion Parking and Grand Parking. For each section a percentage of occupancy is given. The visitor can select the entrance based on these numbers.”
Once parked, the user can save the location on the app in case he gets lost in the parking myriad. “You can take a picture, or enter the details of the parking slot in the app. Once the app is opened again the location of the parking space will be displayed,” he added.
The instructions stop there, as further information is provided in the mall parking itself. The available parking options per floor are given, and red and green censors tell the visitor where to find the available slots.
However, that is not where it ends for RTA. The options are plenty, and it is up to the mall in which manner it wants to integrate with the app. Every mall has its specifics, and the app offers the opportunity to cater to these specifics,” explained Ahmed Bahrozyan, Head of Supervision of Implementing the Integrated Roadmap to Transfer to the Smart Government Team at the RTA.
The objective is that not only Dubai Mall parking, but every private parking in Dubai will eventually be integrated with the app. “Dubai Mall has taken the lead, but we are hoping for other malls to follow the example. We are in talks with several malls now, and encourage all private parking holders to do the same,” said Abdulla Al Madani, CEO of the Corporate Technical Support Services Sector at RTA.
The parking app of the RTA was launched in September last year, and enables motorists in Dubai to locate the nearest parking opportunity in certain areas. As a pilot project, a stretch on Sheikh Zayed Road was incorporated, with the number of public parking slots available at any given time demonstrated on the app. A map displays the area, and colour-coded symbols tell the motorist that the area is either heavily occupied, moderately occupied or that plenty of parking is available.
A little while later, the five multi-storey parking lots of the RTA were added to the information on the app. Location finding is not possible here because of the lack of coverage in the garage, but the number of available slots is given for each of the parking lots.
An added advantage of the app was the mPay method, which saves the user 30 fils compared to payment through SMS, pointed Madani out.
MPay is an existing payment channel where users insert their credit or debit card details and thereby enable card payment through the channel were the payment method is adopted. The mPay option is available on the parking app, but the SMS option will continue to exist for customers who prefer to use this method,” explained Bahrozyan.
Further, the app is available for motorists from all the emirates, who can use the services of the application by inserting the vehicle registration or number plate. Previously, a person from another emirate would have to register for the service, he pointed out.
More services to come
With 60,000 downloads and 93,000 transactions per day, the parking app proves to be a favourite among Dubai residents and visitors. However, the services are still limited and dedicated to some areas only. More areas will be added in 2015, promised the RTA.
“We are currently reviewing the pilot application for on-street parking, and the results are favourable. We may not include all parking slots in Dubai, but we will definitely expand the service. Areas that are high in demand, such as CBD, Deira, Marina, and Financial Centre will have priority,” said bin Adai.
For the expansion the RTA will have to install censors at each parking slot integrated with the app. “These censors can also serve other purposes, such as payment and inspection methods. But it is not really about financial gains here, it is about the happiness of the resident,” said Bahrozyan.
“We do not only want to create a smart city, but the smartest city in Dubai. This parking app helps reducing traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and allows the customer to take control of the situation rather than finding out whether parking options are available once arriving in an area,” said Madani.
However, we do want to emphasise that using this app while driving is dangerous, and the motorist should always be at a standstill while checking his options,” he added.