THE PENANG STATE government launched the Penang Smart Parking (PSP) system in August 2019 as part of its journey towards fulfilling the vision Penang2030: A Family- Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation. The system, through the PSP app, directs drivers to vacant parking spots in real-time and allows drivers to make online payment for parking.
To gauge the public’s awareness and readiness to embrace the PSP system, a survey spearheaded by USM was conducted on 646 participants on December 5-9 last year. Data collected ranged from respondents’ demographic information to criticisms or feedback to further improve the app. Of the respondents, 41% are male and 59% are female. The majority (59%) are from Penang Island, with 27% from Seberang Perai. The remaining respondents come from other states in Malaysia. Most (85%) are under 40-years-old, while 56% are Diploma holders. Ethnic Chinese comprise the largest group at 47%, followed by Malays (26%).
Figure 1 shows that 41% of the respondents are aware of the PSP app. However, only 38% of them have downloaded it, and only 23% actually using it. This indicates a relatively low user base. Those who are aware of the PSP app learned about it from their family and friends (48%), and through social media (30%) and traditional media (22%).
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The majority (89%) found the PSP app more convenient and eco-friendly than the current scratch-and-pay parking system. This finding is reassuring since Penang is actively promoting the shift towards a cashless society. Credit on the app can be reloaded using credit or debit cards, online banking and eWallet apps such as Boost and GrabPay.
To increase publicity, respondents also suggest that more information and discounts be provided on the app, and that the user interface needs to be improved. However, digital illiteracy among some elders is still cited as a deterrent for the app’s full adoption, state-wide. The system does address this by allowing users to pay for others, e.g. family members can help their less tech-savvy relatives pay for parking.
The app has been praised for its easy accessibility, but users have also complained about the lack of streamlining among government bodies. During the initial launch, some users were issued compounds despite having already paid for parking through the app. Additional languages like Mandarin and Tamil to encourage wider adoption have similarly been proposed.
To conclude, even though PSP’s existing user base remains relatively low, findings reflect that the Penang public is ready to accept and use the app once they are made aware of the system and its functions. That said, some form of marketing and publicity is still necessary.