Government Technology

Mobile App Finds Available Parking




Embedded sensor for smart parking application

December 10, 2012 By

Christmas shoppers circle the block, scanning the curb for vacant parking spaces, holding up traffic, increasing frustration, congestion and emissions, and perhaps finally deciding to get out of downtown altogether to shop at a big box store with acres of parking. But in something dubbed a "smart parking" pilot, San Carlos, Calif., is hoping to reduce congestion, increase the appeal of downtown businesses and literally curb its traffic.

The city of nearly 30,000, just south of San Francisco, embedded 100 radio frequency (RF) plugs in parking spaces along its shopping and restaurant district, in a partnership with Cisco and Streetline. The plugs sense when a vehicle is present or absent, transmitting that data via RF to a central collection point linked to San Carlos' free citywide WiFi network. The information then travels to the Internet, and thus to Android and Apple mobile devices wielded by shoppers. 

The Parker App

The free "Parker" app displays a map with the user's location, the number and location of available parking spaces, parking rates and time limits. Voice guidance can also alert motorists to available spaces. 

 The free app, called "Parker", features a map displaying the user's location and the number and location of parking spaces currently available. The app also provides detailed information about parking rates, time limits and more. Voice guidance alerts motorists to available spaces to make the parking experience even smoother.

San Carlos Assistant City Manager Brian Moura said that if the pilot -- expected to run about a year -- is successful, it could expand to additional spaces. According to Moura, the neighboring city of San Mateo is also in a pilot with 135 spaces, and several other Bay Area cities are also interested.

Moura says the detailed data provided by the system will help city planning. "It's refreshing to have actual hard data on when people are downtown." In the past, he said, parking management was done by guesswork or sending people with clipboards to sample parking availability. "You don't have to do any of that anymore with this technology. You know exactly how many spaces there are at any time of day and which block they're in. And I think that really changes the discussion when you start talking about development downtown."

Ready access to parking data might also help people align their shopping trips with better parking availability, further reducing traffic during the busiest times of the week.

Moura said the city has fielded some concerns from the public as the plugs were installed, notably about privacy. But there are no privacy implications with the system, he said, as it only indicates if a vehicle is present or absent with no identification capabilities.

 According to a spokesperson from Streetline, the system is a "software as a service" model. A flat monthly fee includes the hardware, the network, the apps, and maintenance of the system. Streetline also said that a new pricing agreement will provide funding options with no upfront cost to cities. 

While San Carlos' system is very new, Moura is excited about the system's larger implications for cities and counties.

"This may open the door for a broader discussion, not just in San Carlos, but in a lot of cities, about how else you might deploy sensors in a community," he said. Beyond spotting empty parking spaces, Moura thinks that sensors could be useful in monitoring water and sewer systems, for example.

| More

You May Also Like

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
Meeting Constituents Where They Are With Dynamic, Real-Time Mobile Engagement
Leveraging the proven and open Kofax Mobile Capture Platform, organizations can rapidly integrate powerful mobile engagement solutions across the spectrum of mobile image capture, mobile data capture and complete mobile process integration. Kofax differentiates itself by extending capture to mobility, supporting multiple points of constituent engagement. Kofax solutions dynamically orchestrate the user’s mobile experience from a single platform—reducing time to market, improving process perf
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
View All

Featured Papers