Easy-to-use touch screen kiosks are being deployed across Clearwater Beach

The City of Clearwater Beach has entered into its last phase of Pay-by-Plate parking kiosk installation, replacing its Pay-and-Display system with Flowbird’s smart CWT kiosks. The final stage of roll-out will complete the transition to 78 new solar-powered, touch-screen parking kiosks, using license plate technology to provide visitors and beach-goers with a user-friendly parking experience.

Clearwater Beach, known for its crystal-clear water and powder-white sand, draws thousands of new visitors each month. Vehicles loaded with beach toys, sunscreen and water wings drive in to experience what is named by TripAdvisor as the #1 beach in the nation, and they stay for evenings spent shopping and dining downtown.

As a thriving city with an ever-increasing visitor base, the question of parking availability became urgent last year. In October of 2019, the Clearwater City Council approved a technological upgrade by investing in the Flowbird Pay-by-Plate parking kiosks, along with a new parking enforcement solution provided by United Public Safety and license plate recognition software hosted by Vigilant Solutions. The transition would not only make it easier to manage parking throughout the busy beach-goer season, but bring flexibility to drivers parking in Clearwater Beach.

Unlike the City’s Pay-and-Display system of paying at a meter and walking to the car to place a receipt on the dashboard, drivers will now enter their license plate numbers into new smart kiosks and complete their transaction. The new Flowbird touchscreen Pay-by-Plate system accepts payment in coin, credit or debit card, and also allows drivers to pay for parking via mobile app, giving them the option to extend their parking session right from their phone without having to run back to the pay station.

“Our goal is to provide our residents and visitors with an enjoyable time in downtown Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, so we want to make parking as easy as possible so patrons can go about enjoying their day,” said City Parking Manager, Steve Reiter.

Flowbird’s Pay-by-Plate kiosks have already been installed in parking garages and off-street lots throughout the Clearwater Beach area. Using Vigilant’s License Plate Recognition (LPR) software, cameras register a license plate into the system when a driver comes to park in a garage or lot. Traffic personnel monitor the lots and can ensure drivers have paid for their parking.

“License plate recognition helps to increase efficiency of garage and lot operations and improves parking enforcement,” said City Engineering Director Scott Rice, “We also use equipment to sense parking space usage, which allows for directing motorists to available parking.”

With the new kiosks wirelessly communicating to Flowbird’s analytics platform, the City will not only be able to analyze parking activity trends, but it will also be able to streamline operations.  This leads to high uptime and gives parkers a system it can trust.

According Flowbird’s national support director, Jeff Nethery, this is a natural fit for the City of Clearwater and the Flowbird team. “We are very proud and honored to be selected and trusted as Clearwater’s technology partner in parking,” said Nethery. “Our national support program and meter production and distribution center is based here in Clearwater, and many of our staff live in or near Pinellas County. We are excited to showcase our latest payment technologies and integrations and we look forward to providing outstanding support services to the City of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach communities.”

The final phase of parking kiosk installation will focus on the on-street parking locations, including the well-known ‘Mandalay Avenue,’ the coastal road that leads to the areas top restaurants and venues.

Currently, Flowbird supports over 40,000 parking pay stations for over 600 customers throughout the U.S.  In addition to Clearwater, Flowbird systems can be found in many cities along Florida’s Gulf Coast including Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Sarasota, and St. Pete Beach.