Ticket machines text for help

Eastbourne Borough Council has introduced 150 solar-powered car park ticket machines that can text for help if they fall victim to vandals or would-be thieves.

The machines, the £3000 300SI model manufactured by Bristol-based Alfia, are flash programmable and are fitted with GSM/GPRS, a smart-card reader and infrared sensors.

Security features include 12-point electronic locking, an intruder alarm, vandal resistance, a coin-slot blocker and a graffiti-proof coating. If someone attempts to damage or break into one, an internal SIM card sends a text message to a control room at the new Eastbourne parking information centre.

The machines can also call back to base in event of a malfunction or if the coin box needs emptying.