Advanced Parking Meter Locking System Eliminates Rekeying


Advanced Parking Meter Locking System Eliminates Rekeying

The parking meter has evolved significantly since the world’s first such device was installed in Oklahoma City in July 1935. Today’s intelligent parking meters not only accept debit and credit cards in addition to coins, they allow pay-by-phone capability, and can be solar powered to help municipalities achieve their sustainable energy goals. 

In some cities, drivers can reserve parking spots by cellphone and take advantage of discounted parking for operating a hybrid or electric vehicle. Other meters enable demand-based pricing and can be programmed to reset to zero when a car leaves a space. They also communicate to maintenance personnel when they are in need of repair.

For most municipalities, parking meters are a significant source of revenue – from a few thousand to as much as $10,000 per year – per meter!

Replacing outdated meters with advanced high-tech models can increase parking revenue significantly. But with convenience comes vulnerability. Because a modern parking meter is wirelessly networked, it can serve as a Trojan Horse. If criminals infiltrate one, they may not only gain access to the cash stowed in the meter, but also to the municipality’s entire network. Driver data. Transaction records. City employee records. 

Thus was the challenge faced by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S., which generates approximately $57 million per year from 38,000 metered parking spaces dispersed over 500 square miles. 

Because drivers have the option to pay using cash, LADOT needed a way to accurately determine if the city’s independent contractor was servicing meters according to the agreed upon collection schedule. They needed a detailed audit record. 

They also sought to eliminate the costly and time-intensive task of rekeying all meters in a zone if a single mechanical key was lost, stolen or duplicated. 

Enter Medeco’s Nexgen® electronic locks and programmable key system. Here are a few of the benefits this system is currently providing many municipalities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.


Retrofitting existing meters takes only minutes. 

With these locks, there is no hardwiring required because the lock derives all of its power from the rechargeable key, which can open up to 1,800 vaults on a full charge.

For a pilot project with LADOT, Medeco pre-installed 1,200 electronic locks on vault doors at its Virginia factory. Each door was then installed on existing Los Angeles meters in only a few minutes. 

Assign keys, locks and define user schedules.

Using Security Manager Software, the administrator defines which keys open which meters during specified times. Keys will not function outside of their assigned schedules, but a single key can be programmed to access up to 16,000 locks. The software manages up to 1,500 individual key holders, and, to streamline the programming process, administrators can program keys in groups.

Program and reprogram keys
in an instant.

Because keys are programmed via the intelligent software, they can be activated, deactivated or reprogrammed quickly using a smartphone, tablet or computer from anywhere there is internet access. So, if a key is discovered lost or stolen, the administrator can quickly take steps to render the key unusable. 

The system not only eliminates the need for attendants to carry hundreds of keys, it also eliminates the need to duplicate keys or rekey locks — ever again.

Access a comprehensive audit report.

Audit information, recorded in both the lock and key, provides a time-and-date stamped record of all authorized and unauthorized accesses. Nexgen cylinders hold up to 2,000 audit events and the keys retain up to 5,000 events, so administrators can access detailed analytics and comprehensive audit reports through the Security Manager Software.

Administrators can easily identify trends in activity using the graphic dashboard, which eliminates the need to comb through pages of data for information. 

Safeguard meters against physical attacks.

The parking cylinders are constructed of durable machined brass components and employ stainless steel inserts throughout the lock to provide the ultimate defense against drilling, pulling, and other forms of physical attack, all too common in the parking world. The system’s unique elevating and rotating tumbler pin system makes the lock virtually pick proof.

Dan Mitchell, Senior Transportation Engineer for LADOT, said, “The Medeco Nexgen system has transformed the security of L.A.’s parking meter operation by providing unprecedented protection from unauthorized access and an essential, exhaustive audit trail.”

Bryan Allen is OEM Sales Manager, Medeco. He can be reached at 

Article contributed by:
Bryan Allen
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