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Transportation Hardware Technology

Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the sweet-spots dept.
MrSeb writes "You've heard of smart cars, and now, rolling out in San Francisco, is a smart parking system that promises to eliminate the arduous process of finding a parking spot. SFpark is a network of magnetic sensors that have been installed under 8,200 street parking spaces, along with additional information from parking garages and parking meters. These sensors are all linked together in a mesh network, and ultimately link back to a central command center. Drivers can access this parking data via the SFpark website or smartphone app, and see in real-time where parking spaces are available. At any one time, a third of cars on the road in urban areas are looking for parking spots, consuming more fuel, creating more pollution, and causing more accidents. With SFpark, you can see at a glance where there's a parking spot — but in the future, you'll be able to hit a button and have your smartphone direct you to the nearest parking spot."
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Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots

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  • Parking tickets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grimsnaggle (1320777) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:27PM (#38898561)

    ...now delivered with greater efficiency than ever before.

    • Re:Parking tickets (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ichijo (607641) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:29PM (#38898967) Homepage Journal

      Parking tickets...now delivered with greater efficiency than ever before.

      Actually, they've found [sfgate.com] the opposite to be true:

      Prior to the new meters, 55 percent of the revenue came from payments drivers used to buy time and 45 percent from fines. After the new meters went in, the amount from payments increased to 70 percent and the amount from fines plummeted to 30 percent.

      • Re:Parking tickets (Score:5, Informative)

        by fluffy99 (870997) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @11:48PM (#38899783)

        Parking tickets...now delivered with greater efficiency than ever before.

        Actually, they've found [sfgate.com] the opposite to be true:

        Prior to the new meters, 55 percent of the revenue came from payments drivers used to buy time and 45 percent from fines. After the new meters went in, the amount from payments increased to 70 percent and the amount from fines plummeted to 30 percent.

        The reduction in fines is because "In addition, the new meters have less restrictive time limits, generally allowing drivers to park for four hours or more." So people can actually put enough money in the meters to cover the length of their visit now.

        • by Ichijo (607641)

          Time limits were only needed as a way to ration parking spaces. By setting the price just high enough to make one or two spaces available on every block at all times, rationing is no longer needed.

      • Re:Parking tickets (Score:5, Informative)

        by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:23AM (#38900611) Journal

        San Francisco is a terrible place to have a car. This city has among the highest densities of cars per mile of road of any city anywhere in the world. Having lived there in the early 90s, I can say that my car was much more of a hindrance than a blessing!

        San Francisco has great public transportation and stiff density. Walking isn't such a big deal because you don't have to go so far, and buses take you where you don't want to bother walking.

        And when you drive, you rarely get to go faster than 20 MPH. You certainly never *average* much more than that. And at that pace, a guy on a bicycle could easily match your progress. The car isn't so much of an advantage.

        • I see your cars-in-San-Francisco complaint and raise you a cars-in-Seville-Valencia-or-Granada complaint. Imagine a city where half the roads are so narrow that a single car driving down them means people have to step into doorways to let the car go by, where you can drive through an area 4 blocks on a side where there simply is no space for a car to park, and when you do find an area for cars to park they're already two cars deep up on the sidewalks. The difference is: in San Francisco, the driving and p

        • Having lived there in the early 90s, I can say that my car was much more of a hindrance than a blessing!

          I moved here three weeks ago and I'm selling the car I have back home ASAP. You're exactly right: transit is so plentiful and cheap, and walking so easy, that I have absolutely no desire to register, insure, drive, and park a car here. It's way more of a hassle than just taking the BART or Muni to within a block of my destination and walking the rest.

          I hadn't been on public transportation in nearly two decades before moving here and was never interested in it, but this has won me over. It's a model of how i

  • by rednip (186217) <rednip&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:28PM (#38898567) Journal
    While this is a great idea, in some cases it'll be a race to get an open spot, even worse than now. Now you'll be able to see open spots blocks away even if you can't get to it in time, so after a while people will know that they need to hurry and exactly where to go.
    • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:36PM (#38898639)
      Hack the system. Advertise some bogus open spots a few blocks away. All the other suckers head over there. You park over here.
    • by Ichijo (607641)

      While this is a great idea, in some cases it'll be a race to get an open spot, even worse than now.

      They price the parking spaces according to demand in order to make at least one parking space available on every block. [sfpark.org] So there's no need to race to any spots.

    • by catbutt (469582)
      This would be awesome for the first person to use it. They'd have a pretty sweet advantage in finding a spot.

      Once everyone has it, it will doubtfully make a difference.
      • by kenh (9056)

        So let's play this out - I want to park near a certain store in a popular part of town. My magic box alerts me to two spots two block over on the west side of the street, and one two blocks away on the east side of the street. I head over to the west (two spots, better chance of getting one), but on the way over, some other drivers take the spots. Now my magic box tells me a spot opened up right infront of the store I want to visit, so I race over, just in time to see another driver take the spot. How long

    • While this is a great idea, in some cases it'll be a race to get an open spot, even worse than now.

      So add a feature where you can reserve a spot with your credit card by pre-paying double the normal rate from the moment of reservation to the moment you actually park your car. Take reserved spots off the list and make them clearly visible in real life, like with a blinking red LED on top showing that it's unavailable.

      Plenty of people would pay double for a few minutes for the privilege of having a spot waiting for them.

  • The website isn't that usable. Really slow Google-Maps overlay (at least in Chrome on OSX), and doesn't give enough detail to actually see where the spots are unless an area is all-vacant or all-occupied. Except, the big things like garages are useful.

    The mobile app might well be better.

  • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:29PM (#38898573)

    Will the system be smart enough to only provide info to the two or three closest cars requesting information? I'd hate to see the carnage when a dozen spot-seekers show up simultaneously to claim "their" spot.

  • Convergence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edjs (1043612)
    I have visions of a dozen vehicles all converging on the one parking spot that has opened up.
    • Re:Convergence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:33PM (#38898611)

      I can see the owner of the system making additional income by only showing parking places to the highest bidder, so places would show to the guy who bid $50, but not to the guy who bid $20 until all the higher bidders are off the system.

      • by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:55PM (#38898789) Homepage Journal
        I can see the owner of the system making additional income by only showing parking places to the highest bidder, so places would show to the guy who bid $50, but not to the guy who bid $20 until all the higher bidders are off the system.

        No, this is a municipal agency as far as I can tell, which actually makes this another liberal fascist policy telling us where we can park. Another freedom lost...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Yeah, fuck the liberals.

          Always tryin' to regulate everything and give my hard-earned money to unions and welfare queens. Ketchup is a vegetable!

          McCain 2012!
    • by DarthBart (640519)

      And then they get all get there and find out some jackass in a blinged out Ford Excessive has parked diagonally across two spaces.

      • by pspahn (1175617)
        I envision the magnetic sensors to be intelligent enough to determine if such a transport were not parked properly and notified parking enforcement. This will ultimately lead to owners of said transports to start parking more efficiently, which means tighter. It's only a formality to hypothesize that tighter parking means more dings on doors, which means more insurance claims, auto repairs, and... you guessed it, more taxis being used. This entire thing was hatched by the cabbies.
  • Oh good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:30PM (#38898579)

    Now we have a new reason for people to be paying attention to something other than the road while they're driving. I'm pretty sure that's just what we needed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. Neck craning for open spots doesn't currently distract drivers from the road at all :-P

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Yes. Neck craning for open spots doesn't currently distract drivers from the road at all :-P

        Still gives them a hell of a lot more awareness then having their nose buried in a phone. Not to mention they still have both hands on the controls.

        I've had 3 near misses in the last 2 weeks. All of them involved another driver who was on the phone. All of them completely oblivious to my presence until I sounded my horn. Even then only two became aware of my car after that.

        • by microbee (682094)

          It'd be nice to just say "guide me to the closest parking spot" and the phone would just talk directions..

  • One little detail... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0WaitState (231806) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:36PM (#38898629)

    One little detail omitted is that they plan on (and are) raising the meter rates such that it becomes too expensive for some people to park. The goal is to price things such that "there is at least one open spot per block". (I don't know if that means per street-front block, or per 4-sided block.)

    That those rates can go up to $18/hr, coupled with the minimum $50 parking tickets is why some people describe San Francisco as having "a war on cars". There's also the little gem that you can't pre-pay the electronic meters for the next morning--so yeah, it's free from 11PM to 7AM, but you have to be there on the dot of 7AM to beat the ticket-wielding meter maid summoned by the electronic sensor. Makes life a little rough for overnight guests who might like to have some wine with dinner.

    Not to mention the scam of "street cleaning", which seems to require clearing the street of cars once a week yet somehow get cleaned at best twice a year. And you guessed it, $50 ticket regardless of whether any street cleaners actually showed up.

    So yeah, neat technology. It's practical purpose is to raise money for the city and to provide price supports for off-street parking lots.

    • by mattyj (18900) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:46PM (#38898711)

      Yeah. The article fails to elaborate on the true reason for this system: to raise or lower prices based on demand. I live in San Francisco and I love it. I drive a motorcycle so my parking is cheap. This system is not designed to help the consumer, it's to help the city government. Which is fine but I hate how they are presenting it as a boon to people looking for parking spaces.

      They feed us some vision of people 'shopping' for cheaper parking spaces a bit further away, which will never happen. In this city, nobody will pass up a parking spot no matter how much it costs. So this is just a way for the City to squeeze more money out of you during certain times of day.

      I still don't know how they can tout the smartphone apps but still have laws on the books making it illegal to use smartphones while you are driving. Are we to bring a 'spotter' with us everywhere we go?

      Anyway, the novelty will wear off soon enough, I guess. Maybe one day this technology will be universally built into GPS units or something but for now I don't really see it catching on.

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        I still don't know how they can tout the smartphone apps but still have laws on the books making it illegal to use smartphones while you are driving. Are we to bring a 'spotter' with us everywhere we go?

        Could be, they're intending to make a pile of cash off the tickets that will be written for using those smartphones to find those spaces. How hard is it to have a bike cop around to ticket somebody after they pull into the spot?

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        SF is a fucking hellhole. If it wasn't for public transit being abhorrently expensive and inconvenient as well, I'm sure there'd be fewer drivers. (BART trains not so much, but that's just to get you into the city so you can spend money...)

        There are people who actually need to use their vehicle in the city to go to and from work. It hurts everyone: when you get 15mpg in your "big truck" (needed for carrying equipment and parts) and you end paying more per month for parking than you do fuel - including the 2

    • by mysidia (191772) *

      That those rates can go up to $18/hr

      That's really nasty.... so you can park to go to work, pay your parking $144 for 8 hours....

      Your $30/hour wage, is effectively reduced to a $12/hour wage just by parking, before you have even added taxes.

      You earn less than $25/hr you might as well just quit your job, because you'll be in the hole for parking at those unconscionable parking rates.

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:48PM (#38899093) Homepage

        That's really nasty.... so you can park to go to work, pay your parking $144 for 8 hours....

        Actually, you probably can't. If it's a meter priced at that rate, it's probably time limited. Stay longer than an hour (or whatever) and you get a ticket.

        For all-day parking you'd probably want a garage spot, which you might be able to find for $25. Some jobs also offer parking spaces as part of the benefits package. This is just one of the costs of doing business in a heavy congested city area. You wouldn't drive your own car around Manhattan, either.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      How is charging market rates for a scarce commodity a "war"? The price that results in the spaces being almost full but not quite full is exactly the price they should charge! That's rationing via the market, the efficient way to ration: otherwise you ration the communist/NYC way, where you ration by first-come-first-serve and queues (in this case circling cars).

      Do you think everything that isn't government-subsidized equals a war being waged?

      • He didn't say charging the artificially inflated market rates was the war.

        That wasn't intentionally against cars, that just naturally came about because all the parking lots are being built into vacant buildings (like the Metreon and surrounding areas) due to the Kaiser family successfully lobbying to get Prop 13 applied to commercial property at the last second before the election that passed it. Then they sell the holding company that owns the parcel rather than the parcel itself, the property never chan

        • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

          Oh... Don't forget Willie Brown's most ridiculous "gift" to the city: Mission Bay and that ridiculous T-Third rail line.

          God forbid he actually put his new light rail line where it'd actually do some good and take people somewhere worth going... like on Geary Street as a replacement for the always-overcrowded and never-ontime 38. Nope, he wanted Mission Bay to be his "legacy" to the city; so we get saddled with a boondoggle of a rail line down third that doesn't go to Candlestick and stops before the Cow P

        • If SF is waging a war on cars... Based on the number of pedestrians killed each year in the city, I'd say the cars are winning.
      • Circling cars? Where I'm from, we call em land sharks.

    • by SuperQ (431) *

      And SF needs this money. Right now people living here are going to be paying off hundreds of millions for road repairs due to all the car traffic.

      I wish they would extend parking meter hours from 6pm to midnight.

      6 hours * 6 days a week * 52 weeks * 8200 spaces * $2.50/hour = only $38M/year. That's not going to pay back the bond measure any time soon.

    • war on cars (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tknd (979052) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @11:18PM (#38899643)

      I've become a firm believer in "paid" parking or "market driven" parking. That is where we get rid of "free" parking and instead directly charge users fees for the parking they utilize. This article adequately explains why: http://www.lamag.com/features/Story.aspx?ID=1568281 [lamag.com].

      You can claim the street cleaning thing is a scam, sure I'll agree there that should go away, however, we should not have free parking at all. It is not logical. It only makes sense that the person that utilizes the parking should pay for it. That's how normal things work.

      When we have "free" parking, the costs of parking are hidden from the user. This leads to abuse. If you are aware that something is free but obviously costs money to maintain or provide, then by all means as a typical capitalist, you should abuse the hell out of that free service. So now we have grown up with an expectation of "free" parking when that is clearly not the case.

      This penalizes us in multiple ways. The strip mall is now twice as large in order to provide a surface level parking lot (the cheapest option). You must now buy a new house or condo with parking due to minimum parking laws (what if I don't need the space?). The city is now designed around cars and not people (we will never get density as long as this is true).

      In related studies on traffic, the findings are similar. If we expand lanes on a congested freeway, demand will increase to fill up that lane because the freeway is subsidized. That is, the cost of using the freeway to users appears to be "free" therefore demand increases in order to take advantage of a free resource. The result is for a short period the freeway is not congested, then suddenly it has the same amount of traffic.

      "Free" parking creates the problem it tries to cure. Users complain "parking is expensive" so the city gives them free parking, then suddenly everyone uses the parking because it is free and now there is a shortage of parking again. This is like giving people free money. They say "I have no money" so you give them $5 dollars. Then they go spend it. Then they complain they have no money again...

      • This is like giving people free money. They say "I have no money" so you give them $5 dollars. Then they go spend it. Then they complain they have no money again...

        It's the old "Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life" thing.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      There's also the little gem that you can't pre-pay the electronic meters for the next morning--so yeah, it's free from 11PM to 7AM, but you have to be there on the dot of 7AM to beat the ticket-wielding meter maid summoned by the electronic sensor.

      Now that is retarded. Here in Norway they've managed to do that ever since they went away from physical meters at each parking spot to one machine that prints paper tickets for cash like 20 years ago. That way they don't have to give change either, if it costs 16 NOK to stay until end of parking and you put on a 20 NOK coin then tough shit, you got parking for next morning or for Monday. Pay after end of paid parking and it starts counting from next morning like you'd expect. Oh well...

  • by Xenious (24845)

    you could tear down a few blocks and build a parking garage and have tons of parking!

  • A reserve button to allow the driver 10 minutes to safely navigate to the spot, which must be within a certain distance according to GPS. Otherwise folks will see the available spot and everyone looking for a spot will be heading towards the small number of spots and competing fiercly, possibly resulting in reckless behavior and safety risks.

    Better add a red "Reserved" light in front of each spot. When lit, only the person who reserved the spot is allowed to park there until the allowed time for them

    • by yotto (590067)

      Better add a red "Reserved" light in front of each spot.
      When lit, only the person who reserved the spot is allowed to park there until the allowed time for them to reach the reserved spot expires -- by way of the parking meter refusing to accept payment except by the party holding the reservation, and an automatic parking ticket being issued to the violator.

      And a $1 (or so) charge for reserving a spot and then not parking there, or some douche will walk around the city reserving spots on his smart phone.

      • by hakr89 (719001)

        Even better, make it so you start paying based on the hourly rate for the space at the moment you've reserved it.

      • by mysidia (191772) *

        And a $1 (or so) charge for reserving a spot and then not parking there, or some douche will walk around the city reserving spots on his smart phone.

        I would say the sensible thing is that you be required to pre-pay for the first hour of parking in order to reserve. Also, your paid up time remaining to park there should start ticking as soon as the reservation is open (not as soon as you park there).

        For every complete hour you have the spot reserved, but haven't physically shown up, an additional co

  • by 0WaitState (231806) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:49PM (#38898743)

    In California it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving. Even while stopped at a traffic light. So tell me again how I'm going to use this parking spot locator service? I guess I could pull off the road into an empty parking spot and pull up the app, um, wait... Even if I did this, glancing down at my phone to follow the map to the parking spot would be illegal. Yes, it's a poorly written law. But there it is.

    Main feature here is dynamic upward pricing of parking and more efficient dispatch of meter-maids. The rest is window-dressing.

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:00PM (#38898821) Homepage Journal
      Yup, the actual law states that:

      The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.

      Californian here. Knowing people who have been caught breaking that law, even for the first time with no other offenses, you can expect to pay over $400 for that ticket in San Diego and San Bernardino counties. Just a public service announcement for you potential tourists. So slump in your seat so the cops behind you can't see, cover your phone with your hand like you're scratching your ear so the cops to your left can't see, and keep your mind on the road.

      • by zill (1690130)
        Ouch, with those penalties I might as well kidnap someone, implant a subdermal bomb into their cranium, and force them to operate the smartphone app for me.
      • So slump in your seat so the cops behind you can't see, cover your phone with your hand like you're scratching your ear so the cops to your left can't see, and keep your mind on the road.

        Or you could get a handsfree bluetooth headset, mount the phone on the dash and comply with the law. Imagine that!

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      On your iPod Touch which is wifi hotspotted from your smartphone. Not a cell phone!
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      1) Pass law making cell phone use while operating a vehicle illegal.

      2) Release mobile app promising to show motorists where to find available parking spots in real time.

      3) ...

      4) Profit!

    • It could easily be used by people who are traveling with more than one person in the vehicle. The fact that there exists an illegal usage for something doesn't mean it shouldn't be available for those who would use it legally. (cf. Sony vs. Universal City, 1984. Since this is a car story I figure I'm obligated to provide a copyright analogy.)

  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:01PM (#38898827)
    There isn't any word of a reservation feature. I'm sure instead of having 1/3rd of drivers randomly searching for parking spots, having 1/3rd of drivers compete for the same apparently few in number spots will work out somewhat less pacifically than wishfully presented.
  • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:12PM (#38898885) Journal
    This story is old news:

    July 13, 2008
    Smart Parking Spaces in San Francisco [slashdot.org]
    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.

    September 28, 2011
    IBM Launches Parking Meter Analytics System [slashdot.org]
    "It's not just a parking spot, think of it as a 'revenue-producing asset,' says Vinodh Swaminathan, IBM's director of intelligent transportation systems. Working with San Francisco-based startup Streetline, IBM has launched a system designed to help cities ease parking congestion and collect more parking fees. Streetline's remote sensors can determine if a parking space is taken by a car, whether a customer has paid, and how much time is left on the meter. And IBM's business intelligence software parses the data and generates reports and statistics for government managers. Drivers can benefit too: A free mobile phone app can help locate available parking spaces."

  • This [slashdot.org] looks familiar. Looks like the French beat them to it.

  • by toQDuj (806112) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:49PM (#38899099) Homepage Journal

    This already exists on big parking lots (f.ex. of malls) in Japan, where you can see on a map where the free places roughly are, and in front of each lane of parking spaces you will have another indicator indicating whether there are any free places in that lane. Very useful!

    • by Cimexus (1355033) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:17AM (#38900431)

      We have a similar, but not quite as sophisticated (no map) system in many (if not most) malls in Australia. Before you even enter the carpark (American: 'parking ramp'), an electronic sign out the front says how many spots are available. If it's none, then off you go to the next area where parking is available.

      Once you enter the carpark, green arrows will guide you to the areas where spots are still available (i.e. you might pass by three rows with a red cross and 0 spots available, then come to the fourth row, where a green arrow will now point down that row, next to the number of spots left in that row). Turning into that row you will see that every spot has either a green or red light above it, indicating whether it's occupied (so you can see at a glance how far down you have to drive, and won't miss spots hiding behind large vehicles etc.)

      Best thing since sliced bread IMO, almost completely eliminates the hassle of finding spots on a busy shopping day.

      This San Francisco system is even more advanced, because it covers a wider area (not just a single mall or whatever), and has the whole smartphone integration thing going on. Also it operates using magnetics in the pavement, rather than the system in Australia that uses some kind of IR laser or sonar or something that beams down from the space above the parking spot to detect whether something's there (you can confuse it by just standing there if you stand in exactly the right spot).

  • I misread the title of this article as "Senior networks in SF finds parking spaces". And was like :

    Yay, finally someone found some good use for all those seniors strewn about the country. And networking them to. Good job.

    Well I guess sensors will work as well, but what will the seniors do?

  • if one in three cars is looking for a spot, than one of the five cars around me is competing for my spot. So on a typical street, four lanes wide, each and every single "column" of cars has at least one car looking for a spot.

    and my phone tells me that there's an open spot 100 metres away. that's about 15 "columns". Good to know that there's a spot open, with 15 competitors between me and it.

    this is yet another idea that helps only temporarily -- until enough people use it. then it because worse than no

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Part of the solution is to ratchet the parking costs so that you pay more the greater the utilization. So those 15 will see it's $18 per hour to park, and they'll drive home and take the train. Only the rich bastard or guy with an expense account will park there, your competition will be greatly reduced.
      • they've already done that here. but it's 25, not 18. changes absolutely nothing. cars cost way more than the parking. the parking is insignificant. and you're forgetting that the local businesses want the customers in those cars.
        you can't take a train when you intend to go places that the train doesn't.
        and you can't take a 20 minute drive, and turn it into a two hour trip with six buses.

        you can have more parking though. that's easy. welcome to building infrastructure.

      • interesting though. if you think that 18 is the avenue of the rich, you may want to try working harder. you may find that if you'd actually work the way those of us with 20's do, that maybe you'd have a few 20's too.

  • but in the future, you'll be able to hit a button and have your smartphone direct you to the nearest parking spot."

    Just in time to see someone who ISN'T in the system scoop the space from you.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @10:26PM (#38899329) Homepage

    How reliable will the system be? All the sensors keep working, every parking spot, all the time, five nines? No damage from cutting into the pavement for utility work? Salt will never find its way through cracks and short them out? The maintenance crews will be just as diligent in the low-income parts of town as they are in the high-income parts?

    How reliable does it need to be? How does it degrade? At any given moment it seems like maybe 2%-3% of all streetlights are out of commission, let's say the failure rate for sensors is about the same; what happens? What is the failure mode like?

    How will drivers react if the system directs them to drive a long way for a parking space that turns out to buried in snow? Or occupied by a motorcycle that didn't trip the sensor?

    Is this thing robust, or is it just a fantasy that makes a good demo but becomes useless the first year there isn't enough money for perfect maintenance?

    • Five nines? It only needs to be in operation while the meters require you to pay for parking, which is apparently 7am - 11pm Mon - Fri. Any other time and the city won't care if it needs to ticket a car. The failure of a sensor doesn't mean the system goes down either, more likely it would just be a park that users would see an occupied and the system would see as out of order.
  • Isn't it illegal to use your phone while driving?
  • ... an available parking space.

  • What the article doesn't say is that they're only installing this on metered parking spots. So the app will guide you to a spot where you have to feed $8 an hour into the meter, or whatever ridiculous rate SF is charging today, but won't tell you about the free spot 1/2 a block away. Of course, at the rate SF is installing new meters on previously unmetered streets, there won't be any free spots left in the city in a few years. This is all about raising city revenues.

  • by grimsnaggle (1320777) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:47AM (#38900521)

    I wonder what happens if I glue a metal plate to the pavement above the sensor...

  • There are few around here tha say the number of empty spaces on a given level. They may say 20 and nothing is open. Broken sensors.
  • They could cone-off a space until you pay them off.

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