There was a fascinating article in the NY Times this past weekend about how the city of San Francisco is embracing "smart parking" technology
-- basically installing special sensors on the ground in 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spots. The idea is that the sensors will report (from one to the next and then onto a central computing system) where there are actually spots available -- and people will be able to discover where to go via electronic street signs indicating open spots or even via their mobile phones. It should make for an interesting experiment at the least. Beyond the hassle of just finding an open spot, the article notes that in some places a significant component of street traffic can be attributed to people just trying to find a parking space. Of course, if there's still too many people looking for spots, it's unlikely that these sensors will alert people in enough time. By the time they find the open spot, they're likely to find someone else already beat them to it. Still, this does seem like a step in the right direction in terms of using information to better deal with at least some traffic congestion problems.