London boroughs’ websites improve for parking services
New Socitm Better Connected surveys also indicate that county councils are doing better in providing information on roadworks
London boroughs are raising their game in providing online services for resident parking, according to the latest Better Connected report from public sector IT association Socitm.
It has also reported that county councils have greatly improved their performance in providing information on roadworks.
The London survey on applying for a resident’s parking permit, carried out in January, found that 67% of the boroughs provided a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ service up from 61% when it was last carried out in 2014-15.
Socitm highlighted the scale of the improvement by pointing out that the earlier survey focused on renewing permits, while the new one was more demanding in looking at new applications.
It found that 82% of the boroughs now enable online applications, and cited Hackney, Redbridge, Richmond and Wandsworth for best practice on the task.
Links and maps
The best sites ensure that they link or direct users into the related CPZ (controlled parking zone) pages. This gives users access a map of zones or a street look-up to check which zone they live in, then sends them to the application form.
The survey found some common shortcomings, such as that only 39% of the boroughs have their forms optimised for mobile use, often because the application requires the use of a corporate forms portal that has not been adapted for mobile.
Some sites still indicate lack of consideration of the customer perspective, according to the report, and timescales for processing the application and posting permits are only given in half of the sites reviewed. This overlooks a key preoccupation for new applicants struggling to park near their home, and is likely to lead to ‘avoidable contacts’ from new residents unsure of for how long they need to make alternative arrangements to park their car.
The survey of the county council websites on roadworks information showed a sharp improvement, with 85% rated as good or very good, up from 48% in the previous test in 2014. 55% achieved the top mark in the new test.
The difference is that most sites now embed the roadworks.org map and facilities into their websites to provide the information covered by the Better Connected question set, although it becomes more difficult to use when the map is embedded in a council site web page instead of being launched into a new window.
Shortcomings included failing to ensure the user landed on the map of their local area, not providing key information about how to use the map, providing information directed at highways professionals rather than road users, and not making it easy enough to sign up for email alerts.
The reviewers were also disappointed that most councils no longer publish the roadworks register in a list format, as this would still be the fastest route for many users.
Coverage by councils of major planned works was much better, with plenty of information and photographs provided for some schemes. There was also widespread use of Twitter to provide updates on current roadworks and live incidents.
County Councils recommended for this task were Devon, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire.
Visits to council websites about roadworks are part of the wider ‘mobility’ category - including parking, highways, streetworks, transport and buses – a major reason that people visit council websites.