San Francisco parking sensors

The San Francisco trial of a wireless smart-parking sensor system is now underway, allowing users to tap into a centralised network with either a computer or smart phone to find available parking spaces.

For the driver, the benefit of the smart parking system is not just the increased efficiency in finding free parking spaces. If you have a smart phone, when you pull into a space, you have the option to use your phone to add time to the meter. It will also send you alerts when the time is running low, allowing you to add more time remotely via the phone – without ever visiting the meter in person.

It’s a great system for the user, but Fast Company raises an interesting dilemma: doesn’t making spaces easier to find encourage more driving?

What the San Francisco system has done well is implement a form of congestion pricing through variable parking times and prices, making those parking spaces in high demand more expensive at peak times. The trade-off for the consumers is that it makes parking easier and better resulting in a cost – effective user-pays tax on driving.

From the City’s point of view, it reduces the need to build new parking facilities by maximising the usage of the existing spaces.

Below is a great video explaining the system and its benefits. PCI particularly likes the line that “it gives you the tools to tame the automobile, and use it for what it is good for; not have it take over the city”.

Seems like a win-win situation all round! Watch this space for more news as the San Francisco wireless parking project develops.

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