The parking coupon is such a fixture of motoring life in Singapore that it would have been almost sad to see it go. Yet, it should have departed much sooner than now. An activity that involves punching holes in a piece of paper to determine how long one can park is not a very productive way of dealing with the task. Some drivers try to outwit the system by understating the time that they are likely to park, in the hope that "parking aunties" will not show up in the meantime. However, a greater hazard is faced by honest drivers who need to rush back to parking spots to extend their time. This is an unnecessary and, indeed, an astonishingly inexplicable practice in a country that aspires to be a Smart Nation.
The forthcoming appearance of a mobile parking app on the Singapore landscape is an example of the need to get rid of outdated practices that help no one. Parking.sg will replace the use of paper coupons at about 1,150 carparks, including kerbside parking spaces.
It will utilise technology to combine convenience and efficiency. The app will make it unnecessary for motorists to avoid a summons by rushing to their cars to put new coupons if they need to park for a longer period. It will also prevent overpaying because motorists will pay only for the parking time that they take up. Certainly, technology's benefits are not unalloyed. The app will question the need for the services of the parking aunties, but some at least could be tapped for the continued need for surveillance using technology, while others are redeployed.
The larger point is that the technological future envisaged in the Smart Nation project must improve everyday lives on the ground palpably to become an unremarkable fact of life. Winners must outnumber losers. So must those who move with the times, over those who cling to old ways. There is no future in parking in the past.