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Transportation Hardware Technology

Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots 209

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

    by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:36PM (#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.

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

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @10:29PM (#38898967) 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.

  • war on cars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tknd ( 979052 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:18AM (#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...

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

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@nOSpam.worf.net> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @01:51AM (#38900061)

    How about they link to my credit card so I get charged for the length of time I'm parked NO MATTER HOW LONG IT IS. Never happen, because the tickets are a gold mine.

    The point of street/meter parking is short term parking. You park, go into the store, finish, leave, done. It's not designed for long-term parking (it's why it's very punitively priced - you wouldn't want to park there for 8+ hours unless you like paying $1000/month or more for parking). If you want to park for hours (i.e., work), you're better off finding a parking garage. Plus, the store owners you park in front of may not take kindly to you parking in front of their store day after day since they like that spot for customers.

    But there are two problems with credit card meters. First, they need to put a hold on your card. If you're paying for a set time (e.g., 4 hours) then the hold and charge is the same. If you want it to be indeterminate, then they need to apply a huge hold (e.g., a day's worth of parking) and you'll end up with people who can't pay because their remaining credit limit isn't enough. Like we have nowadays with people who can't buy gas with credit because the pumps are now putting holds of $200 or more.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.