Following a two day sprint workshop in Summer 2017 with stakeholders from Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport, facilitated by agile app developers Wearebase.com we asked the question how we could start building a Smart Resort? Through the Sprint workshop we mapped out the typical visitor journey of planning and arriving into Blackpool. We found many points of friction in the typical visitor journey marred by congestion, finding and paying for car parking spaces before arriving at their destination. Consequently we mapped out a new customer journey based on a ‘joined up’ experience by providing a ‘Resort App’ that integrated Car parking space availability data with journey planning and navigation, paying for car parking, seamlessly linking with the already successful Blackpool Transport App to onboard visitors onto to Blackpool’s famous tramway and other public transport services. This led us to the concept of an alpha design covering ‘Arrival’ with later iterations of seamlessly linking with ‘During’ in resort experiences.
In Summer 2017 BASE delivered a workshop for Blackpool Council to evolve an idea that has become known as ‘Digital Blackpool’. BASE help organisations to refine digital tech product ideas, (mobile apps,websites, IoT, wearables, APIs), through prototypes and user testing, and then develop the commercial models, production versions and marketing strategies that help them to succeed.
BASE, via its transport subsidiary Passenger Technology Group (PTG), were approached to deliver the workshop following their commission by Blackpool Transport (BTS) to deliver a fully PCI compliant mobile ticketing and travel app on its Passenger Cloud
This app project was subsequently delivered, alongside the development of a supporting web
application, in 3 months from sign off and was launched at the beginning of April (2017). Now, 6 months later, the apps hold an App Store rating of 4.8 (out of 5) stars on Android and 4.9 (out of 5) on iOS, with overwhelming positive feedback from bothcustomers and BTS staff about the app experience and associated data management tools. Revenue via
the mobile app has exceeded forecasts. For the mobile project delivered in Blackpool, PTG was shortlisted for “Supplier of the Year” in this years Global Light Rail Awards. On shortlisting the judges said “The impact that your system has had in Blackpool has been superb and what’s more this has been achieved by such a small company and team which to them meant that your system simply has to be recognised.”
Smart resort workshop; ‘Digital Blackpool’
The objective of the workshop was to define a starting point for the Digital Blackpool vision, and building on the success of the app project for Blackpool Transport this proposal provides an outline plan for the delivery of an app-based solution for car parking in Blackpool, with consideration for how parking integrates with the physical and digital public transport infrastructure.
Imagining a Blackpool that delivers an integrated digital experience
● Where visitors can plan, buy and manage their experience all in one place
● Where it is easy for visitors to spend money and stay longer
● Where we can identify busy areas in real-time and manage visitor flow through incentivisation and timely information
● Where we use technology to understand visitor behaviour and incentivise repeat purchase, i.e. people coming back to the resort!
Building the vision
The workshop helped to articulate a unified vision for Digital Blackpool and defined potential component work streams, highlighting those that had the potential to deliver value quickly.
The visitor experience; key stages
The stakeholders identified that the visitor experience comprises five key stages, and selected the one that was likely to have the biggest impact:
1. BEFORE: Planning a visit
2. ARRIVAL: Getting there
3. DURING: In-resort experience
4. LEAVING: Saying goodbye
5. AFTER: Ongoing engagement following the holiday/trip
The first step; Connecting parking with public transport
By integrating the experience of parking and travelling between the attractions, stakeholders felt that a project here could address a variety of current challenges, and create a first impression for visitors that delivered on the Smart Resort aspiration.
The current experience:
#1 – The drive into the resort and parking
1. Hard to find a space at busy times
2. Often a queue for the parking machines
3. You need to know how long to buy a ticket for
4. Paying for parking by card isn’t available
5. Often no change is given so exact change is required (resulting in visitors staying for less time than
#2 – Travelling between attractions
1. It can be difficult to find your way to an attraction,
2. You don’t know how long you will have to wait for a tram or bus,
3. When the transport arrives you will have to pay by cash
4. A paper ticket is easier to lose when juggling children & pushchairs etc
5. At some point parking may expire meaning a trip has to be cut short, thus revenue is lost by
people leaving early
The Business Case
A digital solution that focuses on ‘arrival’ within the overall customer experience would meet several needs.
● Shorter arrival times, meaning
● Economic boost from longer dwell times in town
● 12 parking machines are being replaced each year, at a cost of £5-10k per machine. 60-70
machines in total.
Delivery of mobile apps (iOS and Android) customised as Blackpool Council, with branding to be defined, and developed to include pay for parking functionality, with associated parking CEO validation apps.
Customer parking apps (iOS and Android)
Parking charges should be configured as directed by BC. Apps should provide functionality that allows the customer to:
● Find locations to park
● Purchase a parking ticket
● Extend an existing parking ticket
● Enter and store vehicle details
Integration of public transport information
Apps should provide functionality that allows the customer to:
● Explore nearby, and search for a location – showing transport nodes alongside parking locations
● Plan a journey from a parking location
● Access real-time information from a bus/tram stop
● Access service and timetable information
Apps should use public transport network datasets and real-time data feeds (e.g. SIRI-SM), provided and managed by Blackpool Transport.
Parking validation apps (iOS and Android)
Parking validation apps should provide Civil Enforcement Officers (CEO) with functionality to confirm a vehicle’s validity to park in a given location. Where a vehicle does not have a valid digital ticket, the CEO should be able to capture details of the vehicle via the app. This may include a photographic record of the vehicle at the location.
Parking fine management
There is potential to link to parking (fine) management systems, but this is outside of initial scope of work.
Additional use of Variable Messaging Signage (VMS) system data
A VMS system is already being implemented in Blackpool. As part of the specification for the
implementation, we understand there is an API providing parking space availability from the VMS sensors. This parking space availability data should be evaluated as part of this scope of work and if feasible made available within the app. This will provide availability information prior to arrival, further reducing the time it takes to find a space and therefore improving the journey into the resort.Where this data is not available or reliable, it may be possible to install sensors directly as an alternative source.
Week 1 Project kickoff and deployment planning
Week 2-4 Implement data sources
Week 2-10 Develop additional functionality
Week 8 Branding and demo build
Week 10 Back end system training
Week 12 Pilot launch
Week 16 Live launch
Project kickoff and deployment planning
Project kickoff meeting to begin onboarding, including developing specific app requirements, stakeholder identification and project KPIs.
Implement data sources
Configured to use Blackpool Transport network datasets and real-time data feeds, e.g. SIRI-SM.
Develop additional functionality
Develop additional parking module functionality, including ticket extension functionality, validation apps and associated cloud-based management tools.
Branding and demo build
To be branded as directed by BC with applicable brand identity and according to any supplied brand guidelines.
Back end system training
Configured system released to customer for signoff and training. We’ll provide training via webinar, including telephone/voice and shared screens, on all required areas of the back end system, so that you can manage customer enquiries, ticket refunds and associated tasks.
To ensure a smooth migration we’ll run a closed pilot (timescales and locations to be agreed), with the production system as it will be at launch. This will give staff the opportunity to use and learn the system
(e.g. CEOs) in situ before it goes into full launch through the App Stores and available to customers.
Once everything is in place and app functionality fully tested throughout the pilot phase, we’ll launch following the deployment plan we have agreed. Following the launch we’ll monitor the deployment intensely for 24 hours, and then steadily for the next few weeks to ensure stability and effectiveness.
- Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
- Introduction to service design
- Introduction to delivery management
- Introduction to product management