Smart(er) Parking in the Future
[Photo by Nate Enyedi for Wikipedia.]
A few years ago, the Port of San Francisco wanted to study parking-use patterns at a third of the 950 meters it controls along the Embarcadero, using a technology developed by the SF-based Streetline Networks Inc. — little sensors glued to the street that transmit a wireless signal to a central database when a parking space is occupied or vacated. Now SFMTA has picked up the idea for another purpose: to (hopefully) make free spaces easier to find on the fly, by transmitting the data to a service you will apparently be able to subscribe to, according to this NPR story. (An iPhone app, perhaps? Maybe by the time it’s ready Apple will be done hosing their own servers.) The same sensors will be capable of monitoring the speed of traffic past the spaces, and that data will be transmitted as well. SFMTA intends to analyze the data they collect from this network, and based on that, they will set policies to adjust the price of parking in response to demand, aiming for a vacancy rate of 15%. (Expect a glacial pace on that, with lots of legislative bickering once it comes down to choosing actual prices. Dynamic server-to-meter price adjustments are a distant dream.) Reportedly San Francisco is the first city to reach this stage with the technology.
(Unrelated, but the question occurs to me: why do I have to rely upon the New York Times and NPR to bring me local news of this potential significance? And then the Chronicle wonders why they’re losing money.)