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Smart Parking Spaces In San Francisco 202

Posted by kdawson
from the operating-system-for-the-city dept.
2centplain sends along a report in the NYTimes on San Francisco's smart parking initiative. He asks, "Any guesses on the when this will be hacked? Like, 'reserving' an empty spot by convincing a sensor that a car is actually parked there, or, perhaps using the wireless mesh network for some other purpose?" Quoting: "This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spaces in the nation's most ambitious trial of a wireless sensor network that will announce which of the spaces are free at any moment. Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones. They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car."
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Smart Parking Spaces In San Francisco

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  • by William Robinson (875390) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:11AM (#24171645)
    They know how to find free space [grouchyoldcripple.com].
  • I assume these sensors detect meatal. So:

    1) Bums
    2) Foil hats
    3) ...
    4) Chaos, cofusin and many many LOLZ!

  • by wild_quinine (998562) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:28AM (#24171713) Homepage
    Seems like a huge investment in a technology that probably only has five to ten years of life left in it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      You mean the internal combustion engine? I doubt it. Europe has been paying even more than the US right now for gas, and they all still drive. If gas goes up too much more, it will become cost effective to make the gas out of other sources. Still plenty of coal left, even neglecting all of the "bio-xxx".

      Even then, people would not give up their cars. I live in NYC and don't need a car, but in the 'burbs I sure would have bought an electric and put up with the crappy range rather than give up a car altogethe

      • by cloakable (885764) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:44AM (#24171803)

        On the other hand, over here in Europe out cars get good MPG, so even though we pay more for petrol, we don't pay that much. There's very few 8-15 MPG petrol guzzlers over here. :)

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          The US market is beginning to more closely resemble the European market :)

          I just meant that "parking" and "cars" are not going anywhere anytime soon. And I suspect that the internal combustion engine still has some legs as well.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by AmigaMMC (1103025)
            >The US market is beginning to more closely resemble the European market :) Really? I live in the States but I grew up in Europe (lived there 20 something years) and still spend 5 weeks there every year. Most cars do at least 40MPG with many going above that. My father's car goes over 50MPG on the highways... how's the US resembling Europe exactly? Unless by "beginning" you meant the real "beginning" of the car industry... like 1900 ;-) What's more interesting is that european car companies and oil com
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              how's the US resembling Europe exactly?

              We're the US, so we move glacially. (Always like to throw in a glacier reference when I talk about cars.)

              Seriously though, SUVs just went from first place to last place in sales. We have crossed a watershed line.

              While the US government and big oil are definitely in collusion, Detroit isn't smart enough to make a big heavy car safe enough to where some furriners can't make a safer, lighter one. So no matter what they do with crash test standards and other related bullshit, smaller cars are coming f'real.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Igmuth (146229)

              Most cars do at least 40MPG with many going above that.

              Which gallons though? 40MPG(imperial) is only 33 MPG(US), which isn't that that impressive. There are plenty of US cars that do that as well. It's just that many people in the US didn't see the need up till now, compared to Europe. I would say that's largely due to the very low gasoline taxes in the US.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Most cars do at least 40MPG with many going above that. My father's car goes over 50MPG on the highways...

              I suspect that you are either quoting imperial gallons or diesel efficiency. I'd bet that 1/2 to 2/3 of the cars available in the US are also available in Europe - if not exactly the same then little other than branding different. The biggest difference is all of the trucks, and they are a hard sell at any price right now. Jeep even offers to cover any increases in gas! Now THAT'S desperate!

              Your examples of companies' "concern" for the environment are actually just examples of how their PR departments diffe

        • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:37AM (#24172005) Journal

          Yeah, but over in europe, the gallons are bigger...

        • by notnAP (846325)
          There are even fewer 8-15 MPG petrol guzzlers over here in the states. In fact, there are so few, they don't even sell petrol here anymore.
      • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:08AM (#24171893) Homepage

        Europe has been paying even more than the US right now for gas, and they all still drive.

        In many parts of Europe, cars are used for long-distance trips to remote places, often with the kids and a tonne of luggage in tow. The use of a car for the daily commute is very uncommon compared to the United States. High prices did spur better investment in public transportation in Europe, while in America low gas prices created a culture where everyone young and old thinks he needs his own car.

        A couple of weeks ago, a middle-class Slashdot poster wrote something along the lines of "Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people." I couldn't imagine someone here in Helsinki saying that. Everyone rides the metro, buses or trams.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dkleinsc (563838)

          "Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people."

          That right there is the number 1 reason people drive rather than take public transit. (There are rationalizations related to scheduling, but that's what it really comes down to.) And that also leaves out another subtext, which is that the "poor people" they are usually thinking of are not white.

          By driving, a lot of Americans can practice a bit of out-of-sight, out-of-mind with the people in their society that aren't doing as well as they are. When you travel or live among poor people, your brain has to admi

          • by Migraineman (632203) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:44AM (#24172391)
            I strongly disagree. Public transportation in the US sucks because it doesn't go where you want to go, when you want to go. It works well for a very limited subset of the population that lives in high-density metro areas; it's useless for any task that leaves these areas.

            Now before you complain that I'm an apologist, lemme cite some facts. I took a flight from Washington National airport not too long ago. My plan was to take the bus to the Metro train, which would drop me at the airport. Decent plan, right? After a mile walk to the nearest bus stop, I stood there for 45+ minutes waiting for the bus, which didn't show up. At that point, I had burned my "extra" time budget and was in danger of missing my flight. I jogged home, got in my car, and drove to the airport. I passed the bus some 60 minutes after it was scheduled to make a stop. Why didn't I drive to the Metro and continue from there? Because it was a weekend, and the trains run on a 12-minute schedule. With the bus-delay, I was in danger of missing the plane if I missed the Metro by the perfect amount.

            Similarly, I *can* take public transportation to work, but I did the calculations, and the one-way time varies from 3 to 4 hours. That's for a 26-mile commute distance. Public transportation is coordinated at the local level here, so it's a horrible PiTA to switch across five different transport methods to get somewhere - bus, train, bus, different bus, etc. Schedules between municipalities are completely uncoordinated, so it takes maximum time to go anywhere. If you don't value your time, it's a wonderful way to burn through it.

            What's that? I should move closer to work? Unfortunately, my office is located in an industrial business park. There isn't a residential area within 5 miles. Further, even if I could make that work, I'd be a huge distance from everything else. The US isn't laid-out for a public transportation infrastructure. It's been pasted on as an afterthought, and it sucks. We'd need to make some horrific changes to install a useful transport network, and I don't expect that to happen in my lifetime.
            • You're right that public transportation in the US sucks because "it doesn't go where you want to go, when you want to go." You're wrong when you say that the "US isn't laid-out for a public transportation infrastructure."

              While it is true that even with a really good system there would be many rural areas in the US that aren't covered, that's not really all that bad. A good transportation system would allow people in rural areas to take their cars to the closest public transit point and let a bus/train/pla
              • I bought a house many years ago. One of the legal obligations was that I had to sign-off having viewed the "Master Plan" for the county. It's a 20-year plan for development in the area, and shows where the gub'ment is planning to issue permits for different applications. They flash it under your nose so you can't bitch when "eminent domain" seizes your house for a hyperspace-bypass.

                Nowhere on the Master Plan was any form of public transportation infrastructure. They should have light-rail running betw
              • I love living in Buffalo, but I have to say that the public transportation system sucks. We have a subway, but it's a one-line system that connects downtown (in the south-west) to the University at Buffalo's south campus (in the north-east corner of the city).

                It's a shame. First of all, there are thousands of potential users at the university's north campus, but the subway was never completed that far due to suburbanites being afraid of "urban" riff-raff taking the train.

                Second, the subway line runs through

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              i think you also forget to factor in the fact that "transportation" decisions were taken at times when public transport was seen as a filthy communist ideology as opposed to the intrinsic individualist freedom loving automobile.
              There are people in the US who routinely drive 50 miles plus each way to their office...
              you made the decision for a variety of reasons(nice safe suburbs, better schools, etc.) stop bleating when your chickens come home to roost.
              Get out of your cars, or accept that they are part of a

              • by afidel (530433)
                How the fuck is a good education for you kids a luxury? I would say it's a necessity of the highest order. It's the only chance they have at having as good of a life as their parents, and the only future this country has. Oh, and if you think throwing more money at inner city schools to improve them is the solution, think again. The Cleveland city schools spend significantly more per student than either the suburb I grew up in or the one I am raising my kids in, yet they barely afford even the best students
            • by zentinal (602572)

              Migraineman said:Public transportation in the US sucks because it doesn't go where you want to go, when you want to go. It works well for a very limited subset of the population that lives in high-density metro areas; it's useless for any task that leaves these areas.

              Point taken. Why doesn't it go where you want it to go? dkleinsc [slashdot.org] and CRCulver [slashdot.org] hit the nail on the head. Since public mass transit is viewed as serving only the lower than middle class and the non-white, there's little incentive to make it

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by phoenix321 (734987) *

            Poor people exist, but the sane poor people drive a poor car as well.

            I don't avoid public transportation because of poor people, but mostly because of dangerous, violent lunatics, who threaten people just because they're bored. Also because of stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around.

            I am one person, and I absolutely love to have some dignity. I can not cure all evil in the world and I am oblivious to undereducation and whatever reason there may be that kids

            • by xaxa (988988)

              Compared to being in a cage with several dozen jerks, idiots and other obnoxious humans,

              In Europe, which was what the comparison was about, you hardly see these people on buses or trains. Almost everyone is "normal". No one would look down on a successfull businessman taking the subway to work either, it's normal to use it (where it exists).

              I live in London, if you take a train at peak times you probably won't see many people not wearing suits. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbV7CESh6pI [youtube.com] (I know it's busy. We're working on it ;-). The road is busy too, and slower.)

              Times will change in the US, a

            • by phulegart (997083) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:08PM (#24172969)

              I had to re-read this paragraph...

              "I don't avoid public transportation because of poor people, but mostly because of dangerous, violent lunatics, who threaten people just because they're bored. Also because of stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around." ...to realize that you were talking about public transportation. I don't know how, but I missed the first part. Everything after the word because fits nicely with driving as well. You know... road ragers... the lunatics who threaten people just because they are bored (or in a hurry, or mad at their spouse, etc.). Also because of the stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around while they drive.

              But the assumption that public transportation is the same everywhere as that one bus ride you took that was full of escapees from the Asylum... that's just stupid man. The public transportation system in Portland Oregon is pretty fantastic. Now, in Vegas, the buses are notoriously late (quite common to see one bus on a route passing another bus on that same route, where they should be separated by minutes if not an hour). In Boston, the only way to get across the city is by using the T. Driving can take you 4 hours or more, while jumping on the Orange line in Malden, changing trains in Downtown crossing, and hopping the Red line to Braintree will take you half an hour total. In fact, if you want to visit Boston and you don't live near it, the best way is to park at the end of one of the T lines, and ride in.

              My experience with public transportation in Washington DC, Tallahassee Fl, Las Vegas, Boston MA, Providence RI, Portland Or, Milwaukee Wi, New Orleans La, and Dallas Tx has always been good. I've never been on a bus or train with screaming violent lunatics (of any age). This includes my cross-country bus trips as well as my cross-country train trips. And I've done several of both. So I've got more proof that public transportation is safe and pleasant, than you have proof that it is not. And I don't even feel like I have to carry a gun to secure my trip. But, with car jacking and the like, I guess it's not surprising that you feel the need to drive alone and armed.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by AmberBlackCat (829689)
                If you ever get to the Midwestern United States, try riding a bus in Kansas City (Missouri or Kansas) at night.
            • For me,I don't really need the concealed weapon in the car because, as my friend said, the car is a really good weapon. But the concealed weapon would have been great for riding the bus if it was legal.
          • by kent_eh (543303)

            "Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people."

            That right there is the number 1 reason people drive rather than take public transit.

            Speak for yourself.

            The reason I don't use public transport for getting to/from work is that I drive a company-supplied vehicle which is loaded with tools, parts, manuals, and other items that I require to do my job at the various locations that my employer requires me to be at during the day.
            Yes, I take the van home at night, as I am expected to be available to respond quickly to callouts with tools, etc.

            • by xaxa (988988)

              The reason I don't use public transport for getting to/from work is that I drive a company-supplied vehicle which is loaded with tools, parts, manuals, and other items that I require to do my job at the various locations that my employer requires me to be at during the day.

              Thankfully, I don't think anyone's suggesting you should take all that on a bus.

              Having said that, I used to see a lot of plumbers carrying pipes, taps, hoses etc on the London Underground when I lived close to a big plumbing shop -- I assume it was simply much quicker to take the subway to this shop than drive if a part was needed, they obviously weren't commuting.

        • You get a full cross section of people on public transport in the UK too - more so on trains than buses. Some of the richest people in the country ride the tube in London as it's the only sane way of getting around.
          • Well, in London it is a sane way of getting around. The Tube is a mesh of stops covering the city. In Toronto, there are four subway lines.

            Using figures from wikipedia to illustrate the point:

            Greater London Urban Area:
            • Population: 8.5 Million
            • Area: 1,623.3 km^2
            • Number of subway stations: 308

            Greater Toronto Area:

            • Population: 5.5 Million
            • Area:7,125 km^2
            • Number of subway stations: 74

            So, London has 1 station for every 27,500 people, whereas Toronto has 1 station for every 74,000 people.
            London has 1 statio

            • by xaxa (988988)

              In fact, there are 600-ish stations in London according to this map [nationalrail.co.uk], including London Underground (subway), Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink and National Rail ('heavy rail', with 'proper' trains but still a very frequent service) [I counted 611 stations: the number of stations in the index, minus the number outside the pink shaded area, it should be about right].

              In central and inner London you are usually within 5 minutes walk, perhaps 10. In outer London it's a bit more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by amper (33785)

          High prices did spur better investment in public transportation in Europe, while in America low gas prices created a culture where everyone young and old thinks he needs his own car.

          Actually, the low cost of personal transportation vehicles created an American suburban landscape where everyone does need his own car. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy which has been covered in more depth than I could ever hope to mine here. The active destruction of many of America's public transportation resources by General

        • Last time I used a bus, it cost me £1.50 to travel 2 miles (a recent 5 mile taxi ride cost £10) . That makes the break-even point of buying an old heap of a car, taxing and insuring it and putting fuel in at £1 a litre what? About 5 miles a day?
          I am not counting the cost of parking, but then I am not considering the agony of dragging all the crap that most people need to take to work and back on and off public transport. Or carrying said crap on a pushbike.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            In London a bus is 0.90 for as many miles as you like, no matter what the distance (on the same route). The high prices everywhere else in the UK are always a surprise to me! (Taxes subsidise the London price.) Also, in London a bus pass is valid on all the buses, whereas in many other cities competing bus companies don't honour each other's passes.

            (It's not correct to assume that a 4-mile journey would have been 3 anyway, it doesn't seem to work like that!)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lena_10326 (1100441)

          A couple of weeks ago, a middle-class Slashdot poster wrote something along the lines of "Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people." I couldn't imagine someone here in Helsinki saying that. Everyone rides the metro, buses or trams.

          It's bad. Real bad. In fact, it can sometimes be downright dangerous. When I was attending college waiting for the bus, it was not unusual to see some schizophrenic homeless person going nuts throwing bottles around, cursing

    • This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spaces in the nation's most ambitious trial of a wireless sensor network that will announce which of the spaces are free at any moment.

      Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones. They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car.

      - Wireless sensors?
      - Street signs?
      - Portable two-way communication devices?
      - maps?

    • This technology is already implemented in Germany. When you drive through a city, you will see parking signs with the the number of spaces left in a given parking lot. I don't drive here (in Germany), so I don't even know how useful it actually is.
    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Don't worry. The extra parking fines issued by officers who know EXACTLY when a car has overstayed will pay for it.

  • Parking? (Score:5, Funny)

    by owlnation (858981) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:33AM (#24171735)
    Having spent many hours driving around SF. I didn't think there were ANY parking spaces, smart or otherwise.
  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:37AM (#24171761) Journal
    And here I was thinking that parking lots were starting to mark out half-size spaces for Swatch Smart cars.
    • That is what I figured. To the people that say they could put tin foil over the sensor and make it think there is a car there: There has been similar technology used in traffic lights for years. A bicycle will not trip the sensor, but a motorcycle or car will. It is a big metal detector, and can be adjusted for sensitivity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      Almost every multi-story parking lot I've been to in Europe has Smart car places. There is a simple reason: extra income for otherwise lost space in weird corners, near posts, etc..
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:38AM (#24171765) Homepage

    This scheme will lead to road rage on an unprecedented scale. Every time a spot becomes free there'll be a dozen people making a mad dash for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Pfft, we have this system here in Sydney shopping centres. If all the spots are taken, people simply cruise around looking for people leaving, same as always. Fantastic when it is only 80% full or so however.
    • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:59AM (#24172505) Journal

      1. Add reservation option. Mark the spot as yours before you get there.
      Drive calmly to the spot, as central server knows how far you are from the spot and it won't start charging you for the time it takes you to get there driving at the allowed speed.
      2. Add red LEDs to the parking spot markers. Have them light up when the space is reserved. Have them turned off by sending a code from your mobile.
      3. Add option to report people taking your reserved spot. Have tow-trucks ready and waiting.
      Also have option to charge them for "stealing" your reserved parking spot, since you have already paid for it.
      4. Profit!

      • 1. Add reservation option. Mark the spot as yours before you get there.

        Step #1: Locate blocks of available, desirable parking and mark them as "reserved"
        Step #2: Put a sign in your window advertising your "premium parking locating service"
        Step #3: Collect the parking fee, plus a "service fee" from drivers wishing to park
        Step #4: Profit!

        • by denzacar (181829)

          The second line might make some problems with that plan.

          Drive calmly to the spot, as central server knows how far you are from the spot and it won't start charging you for the time it takes you to get there driving at the allowed speed.

          What you COULD do is intercept that same data everyone gets and spam the system with squatting reservations.
          If your office(s) are strategically positioned so that you are about a minute or two from every parking slot it might work.
          Any extra charge for the sucker... I mean customer not getting there in time you dump on him/her.

          Only problem is... The city would probably see no reason to let YOU scam the people when THEY can do that same thing.
          With the bo

      • by denzacar (181829)

        Hey...
        Just because I am using the familiar 1-2-3-Profit! system it does not mean I am being funny. I was serious.

        And what do you mean, funny?
        Let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?
        I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
        You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me?
        Tell me, tell me what's funny!

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        Since I'm pretty sure, there aren't enough available spaces for everyone. I'd say that not charging while you park, will only increase the fight over the reservations, even though people is not sure is going, but "just in case".

        Your scheme seems interesting, but I'd think, you'd have to be either charged for the reservation, started to be charged as soon as you reserve or penalized if you don't use your reserved parking.
        • by denzacar (181829)

          Well OK, I didn't mention it per se but I've implied charging you WHEN you make the reservation. Like, first full hour or something.
          And not starting the clock for the amount of time it would take you to come to the reserved spot at allowed speed from your current location.

          Naturally... they could add the extra charge for the "service" of reservation.

  • Pulas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:39AM (#24171777)

    Paying by phone has been a standard procedure in Budapest, Hungary for the last 4 years. Just send an SMS and there you go, another hour or so, depending on your SMS. Each parking district has its separate phone number, so there's no need for fancy high tech equipment, just a few billboards.

  • by mattMad (1271832) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:42AM (#24171791)
    I would like to know more about the kinds of technology they are using. There are tons of interesting issues like the communication technology, security, energy supply, ...
    Unfortunately, the article does not provide many details so I looked for the web page of the company: http://streetlinenetworks.com/ [streetlinenetworks.com] - However, there isn't much more information to be found there either...
    Anyway, it will be exciting to see a real-world wireless sensor network operating on such a large scale!
  • Japan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:47AM (#24171811)

    Japan has something similar to this, albeit with parking lots rather than metered curb spaces, which don't exist to my knowledge. When you enter a dense commercial district, overhead LED signs show a map of the neighbourhood with parking areas colour-coded according to whether there are vacancies or not.

  • what a quote.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Raleel (30913)

    âoeIf the San Francisco experiment works, no one will have to murder anyone over a parking space,â said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose work on the pricing of parking spaces and whether more spaces are good for cities has led to a revolution in ideas about relieving congestion." - from TOA

    Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

    That having been said, I've seen the start of something like this in

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      "if the San Francisco experiment works, no one will have to murder anyone over a parking space," said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose work on the pricing of parking spaces and whether more spaces are good for cities has led to a revolution in ideas about relieving congestion." - from TOA

      Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

      Maybe they had Hans Reiser as a consultant?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mikeraz (12065)

      Yes, Portland has that technology. There are also signs at the ends of rows indicating how many free spots there are. A sign at the entrance shows how many free spots there are on each floor of the garage.

      It really makes short term parking at the airport nicer. You are effectively directed to a spot.

      Also...

      When crossing the bridges into downtown there are signs showing the number of open spots in each of the city run garages. Slightly helpful in choosing among garages in the general area you are

    • BWI Airport has the LED system in the short-term garage. Overhead Green/Red indicators let you know if a spot is available, and there's another indicator at the end of the row showing if the row is full or has at least one empty. That was surprisingly useful, and eliminated a bunch of frustration (especially if you're pressed for time.)

      The parking garage is a controlled environment. I'm not sure it'd have the same benefit in an open space.
    • Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

      Give the poor guy a break, he is from LA, after all.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:38AM (#24172009) Journal
    While it sounds cool and all, I don't understand how this is going to solve anything. If people are circling the blocks searching for parking, it's because there are no spots, not because they can't find them. This system doesn't create more parking spaces, it just fuels a feeding frenzy. Right now, if a spot opens up, the only people that know about it are the drivers on that particular street. With this new system, the spot will announce itself to dozens of vehicles in all the surrounding blocks, and there will be a mad dash to get to that spot. It will create traffic congestion. What they need is to tear down a few optimally placed buildings, and put in some multi-storey parking garages.
    • by netik (141046)

      You're right. This has absolutely nothing to do with helping people find parking spaces.

      It has to do with maximizing revenue from each parking space, removing the "Free" parking time you get if someone pulls out of a space with time on the meter, and accurately tracking people that don't pay so that the DPT can direct enforcement to areas where more people park longer and don't pay.

      I interviewed at streetline networks a couple of years ago. I refused the job because I wouldn't help them do this to people. P

  • by phorest (877315) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:38AM (#24172011) Journal

    Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones.

    So let me get mind around this, California bans cellphones [sfgate.com] while behind the wheel but will possibly tie this to cellphones or even a confusing screen on your dashboard?
    When will the madness end?

    • by Xtravar (725372) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:33AM (#24172321) Homepage Journal

      The tickets they dole out will pay for the new parking system. It's a win-win situation!

    • So let me get mind around this, California bans cellphones [sfgate.com] while behind the wheel but will possibly tie this to cellphones or even a confusing screen on your dashboard?

      Hands-free cell phones are allowed. I believe the idea is to make sure you have both hands on the wheel--which makes the law of questionable value for a variety of reasons (is a hands-free unit really less distracting? Why is it still legal to have one hand on the wheel and one hand holding a Big Mac while you talk on your hands-free phone?). But still, locating empty parking spaces via cell phones isn't a priori a violation of the law. (Besides, the ideal case is having a passenger look for spots on th

  • by 2centplain (838236) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:41AM (#24172025)
    Here's an NPR story [npr.org] from April 23, 2008 on this topic.
  • PDX Parking Garage (Score:2, Informative)

    by LoudMusic (199347) *

    The Portland International Airport's short term parking garage has overhead signs that tell you, at each turn, how many empty spaces there are on that row. Then above each spot is a red or green light. You can see the status of every space immediately when you turn on to the row. Very handy.

    As far as hacking the sensors goes, we (society) have been using metal detectors to trip traffic lights for years, and an electric eye could check for size. It would require a large metal object to mark the space occupie

  • by burris (122191) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:55AM (#24172481)

    The worst thing they could do is replace the many standard parking meters with just a few kiosks or with square posted meters that are incompatible with bike locks. Then we would have no place to lock up our bikes. It's hard to get the city to come out and install bike parking (plus there are never enough racks) and the privately installed racks are usually useless (they buy racks designed by people who don't ride bikes and/or install them too close to a wall.)

  • Paying with a cell phone? Hell, we can pay by text here... in Winnipeg [wikipedia.org] of all places.

    Many US, Canadian and UK cities are served by Verrus [verrus.com] for paying parking in certain parking lots (even on street in some places, but not here) with a cell phone by dialling a number and having an account with them, easily setup online. Here in Winnipeg they also offer pay by text. The only other place they offer that is in the UK. I pay by phone Mon-Fri for parking downtown, and it's super convenient. Saves hauling around
  • by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:24AM (#24172667) Homepage Journal

    add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car.

    this is REALLY missing the point of "max 2 hours" limits on meters. they were never meant to be a replacement for all-day parking in a garage. they were meant to be a way to keep commuters and all-day tourists from hogging up a spot all day, keeping locals and casual shoppers (and those visiting municipal facilities or medical offices) from having convenient access.

    by allowing someone to just casually "push a button" from where they are and hold the spot another two hours, they effectively have created a new commuter spot and while its nice that the city gets the money, it makes things worse for the locals who actually need access for only an hour or two.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      I don't know about where you are, but here you would get fined for that. If you have a metered 2P space, you can pay for UP TO 2 hours. If you stay longer, you get fined. At the moment they do this by chalking your wheels, although systems similar to this SF one have started being trialled. They don't tell motorists where parks are, they just tell parking inspectors of spaces that have overstaying cars in them.

  • by Simon (S2) (600188) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:33PM (#24173177) Homepage

    Any guesses on the when this will be hacked?

    Why do you have to ask this yourself? Can't you live together, respecting eachother and use this cool new tech to live better? As a hacker myself I can understand that the first thing you would like to do is take it apart and understand exactly how it works to make it work in ways it's not supposed to, but "reserving an empty spot by convincing a sensor that a car is actually parked there" instead of respectfully reserve it the legal, correct and respectful way is just wrong.
    In an ideal place, where people respect eachother that would not be necessary. Maybe SF is not an "ideal place", I don't know, never been there, but you could try to make it become one by not hacking cool stuff like this, and use it the proper way instead.

  • With parking fee collection becoming more computerized, it makes less and less sense to have a flat rate for an arbitrary amount of time, especially as prices go up. If it were still 25 cents per 15 mins, that wouldn't matter as much, but not only is the price at least $2/hour (downtown where I live), but it's one hour minimum. What if you only want to stop for 5 mins to grab something from a small store? (And you know you'll get a ticket in those 5 mins)

    Now $2 isn't a whole lot of money, but implementing

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      swiping your credit card, or whatever payment option is available, and having it wait you until you leave, then bill you for the time you used

      Thats not something I would be keen on. You know that one day its not going to detect you leaving and you'll end up with a gigantic charge on your credit card.

      • by Pitr (33016)

        There's lots of solutions for that, not the least of which being telling the CC company to reverse the charges, but there are other options for making payments. Prepaid parking passes, some RFID stuff (which privacy advocates will get bent out of shape over) or just the same kind of transponder some toll highways use. If it's done right, if/when it breaks down, it's more likely it won't charge you rather than charge you extra. "If it's done right" is quite the qualifier, but occasionally some things do g

  • I was just there. I don't think you can pay by cell phone--it's a normal token for ticket system, but each garage has a billboard announcing how many spaces are left. This is also true of the interior spaces. You dare not venture into one that claims no spaces are left (Umm, we got stuck inside when we did that), but it's very helpful to know when it says '116' left that you are likely to get a space. You get either a ticket or a token at the beginning which you exchange for a 'get out of jail' ticket (or t

  • Don't worry, it won't be long before such a system is used to deny more of our freedoms, all in the name of Safety, Security, and Crime-Fighting. Not to mention concentrating more wealth in the hands of corporate masters rather than providing gainful employment for a large number of people.

  • You're stupid if you are going to let a city start tacking things onto your cell phone bill. Haven't there been enough stories already about the problems you get yourself into once you okay outside charges onto your cell phone? This is not a credit card you're using here folks with the protections mandated for them.

    And with all the other, bigger, problems facing The City by the Bay, why aren't they tackling them first?
  • "They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car."
     
    Why wouldnt they just charge by the minute, leave your car there for days if you want. If you can pay by cellphone i'm sure they could use a billing system like phones. Not to mention doing nothing is more convenient than phoning the parking lot.

  • This system really won't help... San Francisco already has a low-tech solution!

    The homeless people find open parking spaces and wave down cars!

  • What about running this wacky idea through simulation software before actually investing millions on something that might be a total dud?

    If you go to a neighborhood like the Haight or the financial district during a hot time, there are more cars then spaces. Spaces are either claimed before someone can start their car and pull away from the curb... or they're claimed shortly thereafter. Moreover, traffic and intersections are so slow, that getting from point A to point B can take considerable time. When I

  • or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones.

    And it's already illegal to do that while driving in California.

    I By the way:

    To install the market-priced parking system, San Francisco has used a system devised by Streetline, a small technology company that has adapted a wireless sensor technology known as âoesmart dustâ that was pioneered by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Good luck getting paid, Steetline. San Francisco stiffed the company that installed the exc

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