Over the past 10 or so years, the parking industry has seen a revolution in technology, especially in the way we operate and manage the curb spaces in our communities. On-street meters have evolved from the mechanical devices implemented in Oklahoma City in 1935 to digital models with greater flexibility in enforcement and maintenance, through a quantum leap to today’s credit card-accepting, ATM-like machines with interfaces that allow us to pay for parking, get directions, and potentially make a cup of coffee.
Parking meters are probably the most visible of our technological advances, but there are many complimentary uses that help us manage on-street parking:
- Handheld enforcement devices for our enforcement staff make it easier to find, enforce, and document parking violations.
- In-space or pole mounted sensors provide us the data we need to drive our programs and know who’s parking where, when, and for how long. This data can be used to better enforce parking, set dynamic rates, and provide real-time availability to users.
- Smartphone applications are providing the where and what to our customers in a better way, helping drivers make informed decisions about where to park before they reach their destinations and circle for blocks.
- These same applications are finding their way to in-car navigation, helping drivers with turn-by-turn directions to available parking.
We are truly in the midst of a technological boom in the parking industry. The only question is, is this the beginning or the end? I guess we will have to wait until the IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, June 10-14, to find out what exciting new features and applications are in store for the parking industry.
Until then, let the force (of better on-street parking) be with you.