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AD/Haagsche Courant, 12 December 2015: 'Axe at the root of digital parking'

"Struggling with new system

Twenty minutes on the phone to register a car, business owners forced to walk to their shops. Nine months after Delft switched to digital parking, not all citizens are still cheering. Residents are also still uncomfortable with the municipality storing so much personal data.
At the same time, however, the parking revenue received by the municipality has also declined, partly because the new system was initially plagued by technical glitches. Those glitches have since been resolved, the municipality said in response. However, the municipality does warn that the internet connection is sometimes slower at peak times, which sometimes complicates the registration of cars.

Too few parking hours for visitors and the hassle of constantly signing on and off new customers are minus points most often mentioned by Delft entrepreneurs. (...)

There are also entrepreneurs who deal with the allocated parking hours in their own creative way. Bob Junius (48), owner of snack bar De Snek on Bieslandsekade, knows his way around the new parking system. The snack bar owner turns out to be the brother of former alderman Milène Junius, who decided to introduce digital parking.

He thinks digital parking works just fine - and no, he is not saying that because his sister happened to be the alderman. ,,You just have to know the rules well. For my visitors, it poses no problem, as I can see the scanning car coming from afar. There is then more than enough time to register all the cars. And when the parking attendants have passed, I sign them out again."
Dubliners on the street are more negative. A striking number of older people admit that they still struggle with the digital threshold. Another thorny issue mentioned by many interviewees concerns the personal data that the municipality now stores digitally. The municipality of Delft assures that data of every car parked correctly is deleted after two days. On the street, this is received with scepticism.

Lawyer Vincent Böhre of Privacy First, a foundation that advocates for the protection of citizens' privacy, is well acquainted with these concerns. "There is uneasiness against storing so much personal data, especially among elderly people who grew up after World War II. For them, this is still particularly sensitive."


In addition to filing lawsuits, protests are also made in other ways. For example senior citizens in Zaandam collected hundreds of signatures last summer against digital parking, partly due to concerns about their privacy. Böhre: "It is actually sad that it is the elderly who are standing up for their rights."

73-year-old Leny, who does not want her surname in the newspaper, most sharply articulates the sentiment among older Delft residents. ''I think the system sucks. It feels like I am constantly being checked, not pleasant. You now sometimes hang on the phone for twenty minutes to register a visit, and sometimes it still doesn't work. On one occasion, a parking fine was issued in the meantime. I'd rather have a paper visitor card again."


In several cities where license plate parking has been introduced in recent years, lawsuits are being filed against digital parking. According to Vincent Böhre of the Privacy First foundation, a recent court ruling in Amsterdam see that citizens should not be required to enter their license plates. The court dealt with eight cases of citizens who had entered an incorrect license plate number in a parking meter but had paid properly. For this, they received a parking fine from the municipality of Amsterdam, but the court again dismissed all these fines. The municipality of Delft, which uses the same parking system as Amsterdam (with a control car), is aware of the ruling, but says it will have no further consequences for enforcement in the city. According to Böhre, however, it could put the axe to the root of digital parking. "If people refuse en masse to enter their license plates, you would overload the system. People would be sent a fine first, but you can now successfully challenge it. It's hassle, but sometimes you have to be willing to do that for the protection of your privacy.""

Source: AD/Haagsche Courant, Saturday 12 December 2015, pp. 2-3.