Routing algorithms to optimise parking enforcement

Digital tools to improve parking services and generate efficiencies


Parking regulations in Newcastle are overseen by Civil Enforcement Officers.

Parking enforcement officers follow twelve pre-determined geographical “beats” in Newcastle upon Tyne. These routes have developed over time and are based on the experience of officers and service managers.

Individual discretion and initiative is encouraged in determining how to patrol the beats, however this can result in some inconsistent and less efficient approaches in service provision.

Solving the problem

Urban Foresight identified the opportunity to use digital tools commonly used in other sectors to optimise the planning of officer beats and quickly respond to incidents in an efficient manner.

Working with Newcastle-based company, The Algorithm People, a proof-of-concept study was developed. This drew on The Algorithm People’s expertise of scheduling commercial fleets and mobile workers.

Geospatial data from handheld parking enforcement devices was used to analyse historic routes taken by enforcement officers. This was overlain against the locations where penalty charge notices had been issued.

This solution provided parking managers with the ability to input additional parameters to support dynamic operational requirements, such as major events and parking “hot spots”.

We then worked with the council to develop a series of operational rules to determine the frequency that specified locations should be visited within a shift.

Algorithms were developed to determine both the optimal coverage of beats as well as the most effective routes within them.

This proof-of-concept solution also provided the capability for parking managers to input additional parameters to support dynamic operational requirements, such as major events and parking “hot spots.”

Key outcomes

The proof-of-concept solution identified the potential for optimised routes to achieve savings in staff time of between 10 and 20 per cent.

This would provide the potential to increase revenues by enabling officers to cover a greater area, or spend more time on administration of penalty charge notices.

Adopting a digital solution was also identified as an opportunity to exploit real-time data from deployments of parking sensors in the city.