Pay by Phone in Galveston

Galveston is a shining example of putting convenience and customers first. Using gtechna’s real-time enforcement solutions to provide grace periods to tourists and residents, and interfaces with mobile payment technology and kiosks, Norwalk has optimized the parking experience along its Seawall.


Mobile has had a marked influence in the way citizens go about daily routines throughout the spaces of a city and the parking industry has been an early adopter, adapting to new mobile technologies in order to improve efficiency and service to the business community and general population, especially in metropolitan and tourist areas.

According to a Pew Research survey, as of January 2014, 58% of American adults have a Smartphone. Mobile devices are dramatically altering the way people interact both within public professional and private spheres. As more services migrate online, it makes sense for agencies like Galveston to offer solutions best suited to a modern lifestyle. Increasingly, citizens have come to expect a level of automation that makes day-to-day activities mobile-ready such as paying a toll on a commute to work, managing subscriptions, finances or making retail purchases. It is no longer necessary to be tied to a physical location or have a human interaction as it once was in order to get things done.


In the summer of 2013 the transition to a pay-by-plate parking system began and through a campaign aimed at educating the public, was successfully received



This ultra-mobile lifestyle also extends to parking. With the rise of the Smartphone and the influx of apps it not only makes sense to embrace this technology, but might even be considered a must or risk being perceived by the public as out of touch. Moreover, cost savings from reducing infrastructure, streamlining assets and increasing the productivity of human resources alone make this a technological imperative for most IT professionals seeking to improve operations. It pleases the public treasurers in finance departments and makes the day-to-day life for officers on the beat easier and more productive. In the summer of 2013 the transition to a pay-by-plate parking system began and through a campaign aimed at educating the public, was successfully received. Inclement weather such as hurricanes pose a real risk for the city; add to this concerns about disturbing the historic Seawall’s natural facade with additional parking equipment, and mobile phone payments appeared to be the most accommodating solution for the city, residents, and tourists.


Galveston is using 3M LPR slate cameras and gtechna’s pay-by-plate enforcement software to interface with PayByPhone’s mobile parking app. Parkers enter a vehicle plate number on a Smartphone to initiate a parking session to occupy a particular space for a duration paid for via the pay-by-phone app. The plate is the gateway and common denominator for both the parker to acquire parking rights and the officer who scans and enforces with eticketing software, where necessary. The plate recognition software and eticketing software can be accessed from the same user interface creating a unified, user-friendly workflow.

LPR has become an invaluable asset to enforcement because of its ability to capture high volumes of vehicles at up to 3 plates per second helping to achieve unprecedented efficiencies and heightened productivity. Galveston’s officers use 3M mobile vehicle-mounted LPR cameras to monitor parking sessions. “The system is pretty airtight; as soon as the system alerts us we’re able to issue a citation; the plate number from the LPR system is then transmitted to the ticketing system,” commented Officer Sean Migues.

“The ticket issuance system is tightly integrated from the point of plate capture to the emission of the ticket. The plate is checked twice: once upon capturing the plate data and again right before a ticket is issued; if the parker has renewed their parking rights, the system will be updated in real time. This reduces any chance of a ticket being given in error.”


The Police Department is employing a mix of applications in plate-based enforcement demonstrating that with ingenuity, LPR technology can play an indispensable role in a city’s operations. Galveston has positioned itself as an innovator not only using LPR as an enhancement to plate-based parking models but for hotlists moving violations and criminal investigations too. “The integration with TCIC and Officer™ Plates hotlist files give us a tremendous advantage for tracking and apprehending criminals,” commented Sean Migues. “We’re able to cover more ground quickly and for real-time alerts that are radioed in, I simply punch in the plate number. It’s in those crucial moments after a call comes in that our chances are highest for catching a criminal. Without LPR we’d be facing a greater challenge.”

“We were presented with a few options when deciding on which parking system to implement. Eventually, we settled on a pay by phone by plate system because it was the best fit for the unique requirements of this tourist region. It’s really a win for both the taxpayers and the Police Department because we now have an efficient and sustainable parking solution well suited to the Seawall ecosystem,” stated Migues.

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City of Galveston
City of Galveston

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