Originally published at: http://ops-com.com/thoughts-for-the-future-of-ops-com/
First a bit about the history of OPS-COM...
The OperationsCommander (OpeartionsCommander OPS-COM Parking, Security and Safety Management) software suite was originally called ParkAdmin parking management. ParkAdmin also had a predecessor though unnamed.. That original system which was developed somewhere around 2005 was a system for tracking the ownership of parking passes. Not much to it but represented a better way to track who owned what permit at a busy (Carleton) University campus parking office. The software was always accessible online even in the early days and back in 2005 that was considered quite innovative. Staff loved the idea of being able to query parking details at any time of the day and from any computer.
The second iteration of the ParkAdmin software saw the introduction of online payment. Originally the system was setup so that payment details could be stored and later retrieved by staff. Payment details were put into a POS system by hand and in the event of failure, clients were contacted. It wasn't long after this implementation that the University decided that a gateway solution would help to further streamline the process. Previous to that year, the University would hire 5 or 6 part-times to help ease the burden and demands of parker's looking to purchase parking passes. The line-ups were literally out the door and down the block as both staff and student queued up for an opportunity to get a parking pass. This year though was different since many had already had experience with online payment systems, they were quick to go online and make their purchases. As each day passed regular staff began to become concerned that something was wrong since there were only small line-ups, and several of the part-timers wandered around with nothing to do! With a refresh of the online sales reports, management could easily see that online parking was a huge success.
ParkAdmin expands into other areas
Somewhere around this time, the same model was rolled out to lockers. This allowed students to purchase both a parking pass and a locker at the same time. It also became necessary to implement some business logic since some enterprising students bought more passes than they needed and proceeded to scalp them to other students and staff members! The system was so successful that other spin-off businesses were being created. Once the limits of one pass per account were applied students still found a way around that with public email systems. The next evolution brought Single Sign On (SSO) technology to the mix which allowed the ParkAdmin system to validate against the University's user system. Now OPS-COM has the ability to validate users against homegrown systems, Banner integration, LDAP integration and any number of other sources.
Around the same time that Violations (now ViolationAdmin violation management) became part of the ParkAdmin (now OPS-COM) system, there was also the introduction of a wireless handheld module. The software was now becoming a tool not just for tracking permits and parking, but also for the generation of revenue in both parking and security. Previously Carleton University patrols would generate handwritten tickets for the city of Ottawa. The city would pay a mere $10-15 per violation even though the violation fine amounts were often $50 and $65; to Brian Billings this was a huge opportunity to increase campus revenues. (Paying credit where it is due, Brian was the visionary behind the idea of an online parking application.) By this time ParkAdmin had grown to be used by at least 4 or 5 other colleges/universities many of whom had interest in the increased revenue opportunity. Once ViolationAdmin had a firm footing, an appeals module was added and the old PocketPC handheld units were replaced with the newer and more affordable Android units which remain in use today.
Parking, Security... what about Safety?
While the development grew in all of these other areas, there was a sort of evolution happening in another area of the software. That development began with a simple Dispatch module which then grew into an expansion of user profiles to store extended information, and then suddenly or so it seemed we had what is now IncidentAdmin incident management and safety reporting. A full blown incident management solution which works in concert with all of the other parts of the "ParkAdmin" system.
2014 sees the advent of OperationsCommander
In 2014, it was obvious that ParkAdmin needed to be re-branded. It was no longer (and hadn't been for a while) a parking only application. It was now something much larger and certainly more useful to any property management, security office or parking organizer. OperationsCommander now represented an umbrella that covered the areas of parking, violations and incidents, so much in fact that our sales team has even started to look to other markets where we never thought of going before, those include Hospitals, Airports, Municipalities, Property Management, Public Pools.. We did approach some of these before but it was always with ParkAdmin, now ParkAdmin makes up just one of many modules that make up the larger more scalable solution.
Long story short and the future of OPS-COM
So with all of that behind us, we are excited for the future of OPS-COM. We are looking to new markets and new opportunities to expand in all areas. One of our biggest assets is the ability to customize the system code to match business logic or business rules. We look forward to integrating technologies like LPR (License Plate Recognition) and working toward a paperless parking experience. One of the biggest industry disruptions though is the work toward a cloud based software as a service solution. This will allow OperationsCommander to be available to all sized organizations as a complete parking and security management solution at a fraction of the cost of current systems.