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San Francisco Testing Smartphone Technology to Find Parking, Save Gas

The City of San Francisco will test 6,000 of 24,000 metered parking spaces in a program that will help drivers immediately see where there is a free parking space by using a wireless sensor network. The information will be displayed at street level or on their cell phones. The experiment is being considered by a dozen U.S. cities, according to the New York Times.

San Francisco is trying to avoid the congestion pricing that London and Singapore have instituted to cut down on the amount of downtown traffic. The technology has been developed by Streetline, Inc. and DustNetworks(tm).

“….a study released in June by Transportation Alternatives, a public transit advocacy group, reported that 28 percent to 45 percent of traffic on some streets in New York City is generated by people circling the blocks. The study also said that drivers searching for metered parking in just a 15-block area of Coumbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side drove 366,000 miles a year.” — John Markoff, The New York Times

The system has other major benefits for a municipality:

  • Parking time limits can be adjusted based on time of day — to allow for more turnover during the business day while allowing for longer stays in evenings
  • Prices can be adjusted based on hourly demand.
  • “Percent occupied” goals can be monitored — SF wants only 85% of its parking spaces occupied, to avoid cars’ repeatedly circling blocks to search for a spot. In one small study in LA conducted over a year, “cars cruising for parking created the equivalent of 38 trips around the world, burning 47,000 gallons of gas and producing 730 tons of carbon dioxide.”
  • Allows city employees to monitor speed of traffic flowing on the street.

The system employs sensors embedded in the street in 4X4-inch plastic “bumps”, which are battery operated and designed to last 5-10 years without service.

 

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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.

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