Blue Badge parking permits offer important benefits for people with disabilities, such as helping them park closer to their destination. This makes it easier to access stores, hospitals, universities, and other public places, which can contribute to a better quality of life.
Since the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, it is no longer part of the EU Disabled Parking Card scheme, however, Blue Badges are still applicable in some EU countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
For on-street parking, local authorities and municipalities are in charge of setting the rules regarding the use and application. Furthermore, this is typically backed up by central government legislation.
However, in the case of off-street car parks, such as those found at hospitals, universities, train stations, shopping centres or supermarkets, different rules apply. While people still need to display their Blue Badge, they may often need a parking permit as well, in order to make full use of the facility as well as potentially benefiting from preferential tariffs.
In this article, we are focusing on off-street parking, as each organisation has the ability to make their car parks more accessible. In the UK, Government guidelines (Inclusive Mobility published by DfT) recommend that 6% of parking should be allocated to disabled people.
By offering Blue Badge parking permits and simplifying the permit application process, an organisation can help Blue Badge holders as well as themselves.
Why simplify Blue Badge permit applications
Organisations today face multiple challenges with respect to blue badge car parking. They may have a permit application process where parking permits are allocated to applicants based on need, especially when available parking spaces are fewer than the number of people applying for a permit.
Thus, permit management – from the end user applying for a permit to the administrative staff managing the applications – can sometimes be a complicated and time-consuming process.
However, it doesn’t need to be. The right tools can streamline this process.
And especially in the case of Blue Badge permit applications, it’s important for organisations to simplify permit management systems, for a number of reasons:
Make the application simple for the Blue Badge holder
As mentioned above, organisations have the ability and social responsibility to make parking more accessible, and this includes the permit application process.
When Blue Badge holders apply for a parking permit, the process should include confirmation of their eligibility to submit an application. Whether or not the permit is free, the process should be simple and, if applying online, the website interface should meet accessibility requirements, such as WCAG.
Minimise fraudulent misuse
Blue Badge fraud includes forged or expired Blue Badges being used and displayed in vehicles, as well as using a Blue Badge in the absence of the registered Blue Badge holder.
Fraudulent misuse can cause many issues, not just for the organisation managing the parking, but also for people with active badges who need the designated parking spaces. Streamlining the Blue Badge permit management process can include steps to prevent this.
Reduce the administrative workload
Streamlining the permit management process helps the Blue Badge holders, but it also significantly benefits the organisation. By automating and simplifying the application process, you can reduce workload, freeing time for other important responsibilities.
By streamlining the application process, you can also reduce the time it takes for an application to be processed and a permit to be issued. This means that eligible individuals can receive their permits faster, enabling them to start using the car park sooner.
How a digital permit management system can help with these challenges
At Octopass, we believe the best way to streamline permit management is by adopting a digital permit management system.
Here is how it can help your organisation:
Many organisations still use a manual paper-based approach to handle Blue Badge parking permits, which is a time-consuming and error-prone process. A digital product would help automate this process, increasing efficiency and accuracy.
Capture and validate Blue Badge information easily
Organisations need to intelligently use Blue Badge information, provided as part of the parking permit application process, to ensure that accurate and valid information is captured. This can include:
- Uploading the front and back picture of the Blue Badge portal.
- Entering the Blue Badge number.
- Entering the Blue Badge expiry date.
A flexible permit management system can be configured to enable these features, reducing fraudulent misuse.
Furthermore, if available, it could also provide the ability to check in real-time against a central register whether the Blue Badge is actually valid (or not), giving organisations the power to capture (and report) any suspicious activity.
Apply from home
A permit management system would enable a Blue Badge holder to apply for a permit online, from the comfort of their home. This option would save time and reduce the need for in-person visits or phone calls. The application should include a simple form with good user experience.
Important features in a permit management system
Not all digital permit management systems will offer the same functionalities, particularly for a specialised area such as Blue Badge permit applications for car parking. It’s therefore important to make sure your vendor has adequate capabilities to help you simplify the permit management process for Blue Badges.
Here are some important extra features to look out for in a product:
- Allow users to register once and apply for a permit that can be potentially used in multiple car parks.
- Enable users to complete applications quickly through accessible interfaces.
- Offer the option to add/change one or more vehicles to a parking permit.
- Enable users to easily manage their permits online.
- Offer a simple permit renewal process.
- Provide real-time information about the status of an application or renewal, reducing the need for users to wait for updates or call for information.
- Provide the option for an offline process for people who need it. (E.g. contact the admin team to create the parking permit on the person’s behalf.)
- Provide open and industry standard interfaces enabling enforcement systems to be able to integrate.
A great permit management system can provide a simple permit application process for Blue Badge users, which should be a priority for organisations that manage their car parks and require Blue Badge parking permits. As seen above, this doesn’t only help Blue Badge holders, but it can also bring a range of benefits for the organisation.
Octopass is a software product that helps you manage permits and passes in a simple, efficient, and transparent way. With over a decade of experience serving a range of sectors, Octopass offers solutions for simplifying and automating a variety of permits and passes, including Blue Badge parking permits.