Interviews | January 10, 2020
PEAK Award Winner: Print Solutions Plus
In the Nov/Dec 2019 issue of PS Magazine, we highlighted the 11 winners of PSDA’s annual PEAK Awards. Today we take a look at one of those companies — Print Solutions Plus —and catch up with them post-win.
The City of Brigantine, New Jersey, offers 4x4 vehicles access to its beaches for a fee. Vehicle owners must purchase and display a permit to drive on the beach legally. Permits could only be purchased at one location, with multiple forms of documentation required to apply. The only way to verify a permit was by manually looking up its number from a set of binders.
“The client was looking for efficiency,” Print Solutions Plus says. “More importantly, they were looking for a faster way residents and visitors could obtain a beach permit,” the company says, noting the end goal was for people to enjoy Brigantine’s beaches without hassle.
The solution screamed technology to Print Solutions Plus. The company partnered with Ed Cichy of Harmony Computer Services to come up with a proposal for the city based on the client’s wish list. The proposal included software, hardware and decals.
A thin client/server product was developed to enable deployment of an application over the internet. Brigantine now has a server and two workstations in its Beach Tag Office, and up to three Panasonic Toughpads at remote scanning stations.
The Beach Tag Office uses 2D symbol scanners by Zebra to fill out applications by extracting information from each driver’s license and registration. The remote scanning stations utilize Symbol scanners by Zebra, connected via Bluetooth to the Panasonic Toughpads to scan and capture information stored on the server.
The new decals are bar coded vinyl with a face adhesive for application on the windshield only. The bar code kicks off the new permit process at the Beach Tag Office because it uniquely identifies the vehicle, owner, license plate, permit type and additional information. Although someone can still copy the decal, data within the bar code can’t be duplicated.
The process of obtaining a permit has decreased dramatically — a 10-minute ordeal has been reduced to less than two minutes, and renewals take even less time. The new system has allowed for an additional beach access point because the scanners are efficient and accurate.
Checking decals at the beaches has also improved dramatically. The Panasonic Toughpads connect to the internet via built-in sim cards of Wi-Fi hotspots (so no more looking through binders). The Toughpads are scanning at a 95% accuracy rate, enabling the city to verify that vehicles and their drivers comply with the law.
We sat down with Carrie Siconolfi, president of Print Solutions Plus, to learn more about the process of working with the city and the creativity it took to reel in this challenge.
What are some of the biggest differences between working with a city versus a business in the private sector?
The biggest difference I noticed working on a project with a municipality instead of a business is that they were actively engaged in the process and appreciated our recommendations — something I don’t see as much of in the private sector. There were several planning meetings with many people involved: in this case, significant input from all departments affected by the program. They all participated in the planning sessions and had a say in the decision-making process.
Were there any unexpected challenges that arose as part of working with the city?
One of the big challenges getting this project to work was selecting the right hardware — in particular, the scanners. There were challenges with Wi-Fi connections, the weather conditions and read rates. There was a fair amount of trial and error up front to get everything up and running, and finding the right equipment took time.
Is Print Solutions Plus working on other projects with the city?
Because of our reliability as a supplier to this city, they use us for several other items pertaining to permitting and compliance. Likewise, our software partner Harmony has also been working with the city in other areas relating to permitting.
Working on a project like city permits can seem dry on paper, but based on your PEAK Award entry, it seemed to challenge the team in creative ways. How did your team push itself to think outside the box for this project?
When the client initially contacted us about what they were looking to do, I knew right away this would require team collaboration. We knew the solution had to be a bar code because the amount of data that you can connect to that series of lines is huge — and we knew the company that could help make this a reality.
Working with Harmony Software as we did in this case provided the end user with a great outcome: We were able to deliver exactly what the client wanted to achieve. Having worked on other projects in the past with Harmony over the years, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and have an excellent business relationship. From a team sell approach, this has worked not only for us, but for our clients, too.
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