Will Smart Parking Make Circling The Block A Thing Of The Past?

from the wouldn't-that-be-nice dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 7:42pm

    Think beyond the moment though. The data collected from these "smart meters" will also alert the city to peoples parking habits. How long people park in certain areas and at what times. In addition, when this data gets streamed to in car GPS systems, people may decide to avoid trying to park on certain blocks, knowing that spaces are rarely open there.

    Of course, nothing will stop the lousy parker from taking up two spaces!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Zubin, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    Mike, another interesting parking initiative in SF is in the two links below. It includes demand-based pricing, which seems like a very good idea for many (even most?) neighborhoods.

    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008113.html, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/article?f=/c/a/2008/04/14/MNTO104818.DTL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 8:36pm

    Info Flow => Instabilities

    Increasing the flow of information in this way often exacerbates instabilities in the system. For instance, we could see larger flows of traffic converging on available spots, filling them up, and just as quickly turning en masse to the next spot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    artywah, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 9:13pm

    Next step - alert the parking inspectors when a spot has been taken for more than the posted time.

    This would allow them to go directly to cars that have been parked too long rather than trying to monitor when a car arrives in a spot

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:14pm

    im curious to see what derives from that, because as mentioned in the article empty spot in popular areas will not stay empty for long.

    but good job on who ever came up with that, ill try to follow up its progress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Raymond, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:24pm

    Good idea but...

    okay, just a couple of questions about it, how close to realtime is it, everybody brought up great points there most people will get there only to find that it has been taken by somebody.

    it is a great idea, if you think about it, that puts us another step closer to making automobiles automatic, and that i believe will be the day that accidents are a thing of the past.

    they should take the idea that they have there, and put research into that. everybody knows that automation like that is not just a science fiction theater special... it can be done would not be hard at all

    Great idea though again, keep up the good work!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    pbaka, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 4:33am

    Notify by phone....O great

    What brilliant advocate of safe driving included the ability to find the parking spot by phone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Heath Ackley, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    We already have this

    We have this technology at one of our malls. The mall is designed like a small town and has lots and garages sprinkled around. On the corner of each street, there is a sign with the number of open spots in lots or garages. You can quickly see, oh Lot A has 7 open spots; but, Lot B only has 1. It makes it easy to figure out where to go.

    It is a heavy traffic area; but, it isn't as bad as a city street for parking.

    The mall is Easton Town Centre in Columbus, OH.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    It seems to me even the information that AREN'T any spots within X blocks would be useful information. Then you know to give up and go to a parking garage sooner.

    Then of course you'll have the parking garages paying the city to advertise on the same network, displaying their open slots et cetera. Very Mercenary, but I can see it working.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 7:48am


    "Of course, nothing will stop the lousy parker from taking up two spaces!!!"

    Why not if they have the sensor and can tell that one person is taking up more than one spot for ten min send a request for a cop to issue a ticket. This would work also for expired parking meters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymoose, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

    Can't wait til the hacks begin...

    Marking empty spots as taken to hold them, marking taken spots as empty to move traffic around.. Will the meter be on the same network? How vulnerable is that? Get cars towed, pre-load 4 hours, etc.

    Since these experiments usually work out to be so secure...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    san francisco chiropractor, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:07am


    garages are very important in a building because it is also for the safety of the people and their vehicles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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