London boroughs pass Socitm’s mobile parking permit test

Written by Rebecca Hill on 19 April 2017 in News

More than 80% of sites fully tested in Better Connected survey allowed residents to apply online

Allowing residents to apply for parking permits online is a priority for London councils - Photo credit: PA

Two-thirds of London borough councils are offering a good or very good online service for residents that are looking to apply for a parking permit on a mobile device, the association for IT professionals in the public sector has said.

The results of Socitm’s latest Better Connected survey, part of a wider assessment of councils’ digital services, have shown that London boroughs provide a good online service for residents.

“Parking is clearly a key priority service for London boroughs and website home pages reflected this,” Socitm said. “Signposting of the parking area of sites, and within them, the permits section, was generally excellent.”

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Council scored highly on mobile optimisation, with 91% - all but three of those assessed - working on mobile devices, and on the the ability for peope to apply online.

The assessors said they were able to complete the task without any errors “seriously affecting the user experience” in 81.8% of the cases, while 91% of sites were free of out of date information, with the same proportion of sites being free of jargon.

Councils were also praised for providing information on how much a permit costs before having to start a form or register online, with 87.9% doing so, while 75.8% told residents what documentation was needed before the process began.

Socitm said that where many of the sites - 60% - fell down was on making the online forms residents had to use mobile friendly.

Another common flaw was a failure to describe the end-to-end process of applying, receiving and using a permit, the assessors said, adding that “offering a brief overview before attempting to work through the form is really helpful”.

In addition, councils were urged to offer better timetables for processing and posting the permits - this was provided on just half of the sites.

“This overlooks what is likely to be a key preoccupation for new applicants struggling to park near their home, and consequently a likely source of those ‘avoidable contacts’ all councils are keen to reduce. From a customer perspective, this is a significant failing,” Socitm said.

Recommended sites were Redbridge, Hackney, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth, with the latter being described as offering an “excellent browsing experience”.

A number of councils are currently working with the Government Digital Service to pilot the use of the online identity assurance programme, GOV.UK Verify, for parking permit applications.

The aim of the pilots - which entered alpha phase last month - is to improve online services for first time applicants for permits, so people don’t have to bring, scan or post any documents to prove who they are.

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