Paid parking at Reston Town Center has been postponed until January, but citizen concerns about using the new Park RTC app remain.
Many would-be users say they are wary of downloading the app, developed by Passport Parking, because of privacy concerns about the app having access to credit card information and the phone’s camera. Additionally, the “find my car” kiosk feature has been called a “stalker’s dream” by some Reston Now commenters.
A Reston Town Center spokesman said users can find parking more quickly, pay for parking from the comfort of their own vehicles, extend parking sessions remotely, get receipts online, avoid credit card and transaction fees and much more by using the app.
The app also features LiveSafe, a feature where patrons can report security concerns to town center management and security, as well as contact Fairfax County Police with the touch of a button. LiveSafe is now live on the app, which can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.
But RTC has still been hit with many security questions. That’s why they have released some answers.
Here are some of the most common ones directed at RTC, with answers from its owner, Boston Properties:
Is my credit card data safe and privacy protected?
Yes. Both Passport Inc. and Reston Town Center take the important responsibility to protect credit card information very seriously.
Passport conducts regular audits of its information security systems to ensure there are no vulnerabilities — data security is core to their business.
Passport employs a two factor authentication (2FA) process that requires first-time users to verify their identity by entering a text authorization sent to verify device ownership in addition to a pin number.
Passport also holds compliance with PCI DSS Level 1 certification, the most stringent data security framework administered by the PCI Security Standards Council.
Passport will never sell or distribute ParkRTC user information to third parties.
Why does the ParkRTC app request access to my mobile device’s GPS?
At the discretion of and convenience to the parker, GPS is incorporated for three reasons: (1) to quickly find open parking spaces, (2) to identify retailers who validate or have special offers and (3) to work with the LiveSafe technology to identify the location of a patron who needs immediate assistance. Guests can turn off locations services for the app or pay at pay stations if they prefer.
When downloading the ParkRTC app, why are users prompted to allow camera access?
This is optional and the prompt is activated in the event that the user wants to utilize their camera option to photograph their credit card while activating their account. Some people prefer this feature, similar to online banking models. Users can easily bypass and not engage
Can you provide clarity around the imaging of my vehicle when I park?
Park Assist’s (www.parkassist.com) parking guidance systems utilize the latest in smart-sensor technology. The “Find Your Car” feature is available at the pay stations; this feature was requested by patrons and the technology has been used in more than 50 [parking] sites globally without incident.
Most importantly, parkers should understand that the sensors are not live monitored, nor are they surveillance cameras. They simply take a micro image of a license plate which is immediately discarded after the vehicle leaves the garage.
Can you tell me more about the sensors that take my license plate image?
The Park Assist M4 sensors installed at Reston Town Center use sophisticated algorithms to detect the presence of a vehicle in a parking space. This function of “vehicle detection” allows the
sensors, along with the integrated dynamic signs of the Park Assist system, to guide customers to the nearest available parking space.
Once an M4 sensor detects a vehicle in a parking space, it takes an image of that vehicle to assist with the alignment of payment for
the parking space with the identified vehicle. Using License Plate Recognition technology, the M4 sensor verifies the vehicle has paid for parking.
Once a vehicle leaves a parking space, that image is removed from the database. The technology is also designed to save parkers
from the unpleasant experience of circling garages looking for parking spaces.
How does “Find my Car” work? What is being done to ensure that only the person parking can use this technology?
At any of the four “Find Your Car” kiosks, parkers will search for the
location of their car by entering the 8- or 9-digit unique parking session ID code received through the ParkRTC app or phone.
RTC has elected not to utilize any mobile component of
the Park Assist technology at this time; “Find Your Car” will only be accessible at one of the four pay station kiosks once paid parking starts in January of 2017.
Can you provide examples of items that can be reported via LiveSafe?
Guests can use the app to communicate directly with RTC safety and security teams in real-time, from quality of life tips such as light outages or an area that needs clean-up to suspicious activity. Non-emergent reports are automatically dispatched to the appropriate onsite personnel and will be responded to within 48 hours.
In what types of situations could I use LiveSafe?
You can use the LiveSafe app to communicate any type of situation, from a lost child or pet to assistance with a health emergency. LiveSafe also includes a feature that allows
you to connect with a friend or family member to virtually walk you to your car.