The Dutch municipality has worked with Siemens company Mendix and JAM-IT to build a native app that enables its residents to register the licence plates of visitors’ cars.
The Dutch municipality of Rotterdam has built a native app to enable residents to register the licence plates of visitors’ cars.
Over 80,000 residents of Rotterdam have a licence for visitor parking and register 2.5 million cars per year.
The Rotterdam Bezoekersparkeren (RBP) app aims to improve user experience and uses biometric authentication, low latency and offline functionality. It was developed with Siemens company Mendix, which specialises in enterprise low-code apps, after the previous solution with another provider was discontinued.
Residents of Rotterdam who live in an area with paid parking can benefit from a reduced fee for their visitors. Because Rotterdam uses scan cars for parking enforcement, the residents need to register the licence plates of their visitors.
"We started mapping out our wants and needs for a mobile application where residents can register their visitors," said Rob Poll, product manager at the Municipality of Rotterdam. "The app needed to offer user-friendly authentication and be downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.”
He added: “With our former solution, we saw that some people still used text messages or made a phone call to register their visitors. This doesn’t live up to the technical and end-user standards anymore. Also, the app should be rock solid and offer continuous high performance. Every outage will harm the user experience and lead to questions for our customer support team – two elements we want to prevent.”
“Working with an internal team on the development of the application is far more efficient than trying to fine-tune an existing solution from a supplier to the needs of the organisation."
Poll said it was also essential that the app could communicate with the system that contains all 80,000 parking contracts of residents and give users real-time insight into how many of their 500 hours of reduced parking they have left.
Rotterdam had already used the Mendix low-code platform before and the city’s Rapid Application Development (RAD) team created the app with the help of Mendix partner Mansystems.
The RAD team worked in sprints. Poll said: "As a product owner, I was able to prioritise easily and saw that the feedback we provided was implemented very fast. I experienced that working with an internal team on the development of the application is far more efficient than trying to fine-tune an existing solution from a supplier to the needs of the organisation."
The RBP app was launched in June and the city reports that 97 per cent of users installed it within a month.
Rotterdam then collaborated with JAM-IT, another Mendix partner, to rebuild the visitor parking app as native-mobile within six weeks using agile methodologies.
A native application is a software program that is developed for use on a particular platform or device. Armando Jacobus, Mendix developer at JAM-IT, said: "The team was able to convert the hybrid RBP app to native mobile within six weeks. It was the first time anyone created a true native-mobile app with Mendix, and we’re impressed by the result.”
"With native mobile, Mendix and JAM-IT have provided us with an app that is more solid, faster and smoother than ever," Poll said. "Because the app doesn’t render inside a web view and communicates directly with the database, our users can benefit from excellent performance, smooth animations and natural interaction. Also, residents can store their favourite licence plates in the app, so the app doesn’t have to go to the backend every time a visitor is registered. We also love the fact we can offer biometric authentication.”
"Rotterdam is very energetic. Working with them is like getting on a fast train. We see processes that take months or years being transformed within weeks and days.”
The native mobile version of RBP will be launched in the third quarter of this year.
Poll said future developments will include making it easy to provide feedback about the app.
"We are constantly seeking ways to accelerate innovation," said Jacobus. "Normally, one does not expect municipalities to be precursors or early adopters. But Rotterdam is very energetic. Working with them is like getting on a fast train. We see processes that take months or years being transformed within weeks and days. They always want to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
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