Killer post title, eh?
Some time ago I put in an FOI request to the Isle of Wight Council for the transaction logs from a couple of ticket machines in the car park at Yarmouth. Since then, the Council made some unpopular decisions about car parking charges, got a recall and then in passing made the local BBC news (along with other councils) in respect of the extent of parking charge overpayments…
Here’s how hyperlocal news outlet OnTheWight reported the unfolding story…
- 11 new ways the council propose to make car parking more expensive
- Look again at parking and leisure centre charges, say Island Conservatives
- Increased car parking charges revealed
- Council could face legal action over car parking increases
- Council gives their view on the legal uses of car parking income
- Council claim they don’t yet know how many people wrote to them about parking changes
- Executive vote: Free parking in 24 car parks goes, including Appley and Puckpool and parking charges up
- Councillors ‘call-in’ decision on parking changes
- Date set for scrutiny of changes to parking charges
- Follow live coverage of parking changes being scrutinised (Updated) (includes a copy of the call-in notice)
- Isle of Wight car parkers overpaid £186,706.35 between 2011-13
I really missed a trick not getting involved in this process – because there is, or could be, a significant data element to it. And I had a sample of data that I could have doodled with, and then gone for the whole data set.
Anyway, I finally made a start on looking at the data I did have with a view to seeing what stories or insight we might be able to pull from it – the first sketch of my conversation with the data is here: A Conversation With Data – Car Parking Meter Data.
It’s not just the parking meter data that can be brought to bear in this case – there’s another set of relevant data too, and I also had a sample of that: traffic penalty charge notices (i.e. traffic warden ticket issuances…)
With a bit of luck, I’ll have a go at a quick conversation with that data over the next week or so… Then maybe put in a full set of FOI requests for data from all the Council operated ticket machines, and all the penalty notices issued, for a couple of financial years.
Several things I think might be interesting to look at Island-wide:
- in much the same was as Tube platforms suffer from loading problems, where folk surge around one entrance or another, do car parks “fill up” in some sort of order, eg within a car park (one meter lags the other in terms of tickets issued) or one car park lags another overall;
- do different car parks have a different balance of ticket types issued (are some used for long stay, others for short stay?) and does this change according to what day of the week it is?
- how does the issuance of traffic penalty charge notices compare with the sorts of parking meter tickets issued?
- from the timestamps of when traffic penalty charge notices tickets are issued, can we work out the rounds of different traffic warden patrols?
The last one might be a little bit cheeky – just like you aren’t supposed to share information about the mobile speed traps, perhaps you also aren’t supposed to share information that there’s a traffic warden doing the rounds…?!