No Meter and No Gate: Auto ID Like Automated Toll Services?


No Meter and No Gate: Auto ID Like Automated Toll Services?

Amalendu Chatterjee, a futurist, muses about one possible future with all parking consolidated under one paradigm. Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Your guess is as good as ours. Editor. 

Professor Donald Shoup highlighted parking problems in big cities in his first book, “The High Cost of Free Parking”. He and his other colleagues articulated very well the problem of having too many parking spaces (lack of planning) and a solution approach in his second book, “Parking and the City” – eliminating off-street parking (otherwise known as PARCS) in favor of on-street parking with fair prices. 

In my opinion, they do not go far enough for a real uniform technology-based solution with improved cost nationwide. Parking spaces (requiring private and public consolidation) are national resources and must be raised at that level for a standardized uniform solution. Autonomous vehicles, iCloud platform, big data analytics (BDA), artificial intelligence, no meter and no gate, sophisticated software instead of field hardware, parking database, personal devices such as smart phones with smart apps, autonomous identification and autonomous invoicing will dictate the future parking paradigm. 

End users, like airline passengers, will do most of the work to get their wish granted – a one-click solution. Parking solutions should be the tail end (last mile) of other integrated virtual transportation services. I contend that the process (no meter and no gate) I propose, hopefully, will address differently Shoup’s third theory, “Spend the Parking Revenue to Improve Public Services on the Metered Street”.  

On-street and off-street parking dominate the parking industry earning over $21 billion revenue a year. But current parking paradigms have technologies over 75 years old. They are labor intensive and hardware oriented requiring field maintenance and cash collection. Strict enforcements give an unfriendly image of the industry. Of course, over the years these hardware devices have become very sophisticated but expensive.

 Mobile and credit card payments have been added for incremental values but not at the level consolidated technologies can provide. The upgrades needed include a national parking database for proper counting of resources, private and public parking space coordination, integration with other transportation services such as train, airline, hotel, car rental, etc., synchronization of parking services with other virtual transportation services such as Uber/Lyft, and driverless transportation services. 

There are 250 million vehicles and over 800 million parking spaces in the U.S. 

Every year, over 15 million vehicles are sold in the U.S. Every new vehicle adds two or three parking spaces in the urban district, eroding prime land for urban housing and other economic development (NYT article, “Parking Has Eaten American Cities” by Richard Florida, July 24, 2018). On-street parking is biased towards those who can afford high prices and fines.

 Daily on-street and off-street parking competition leads to vehicles cruising for open spaces. Vehicle cruising emits greenhouse gas (GHG) and creates traffic congestion. Business as usual in the parking industry will lead to a slow national disaster in terms of traffic congestion, air pollution, land use and rural/urban economic gaps. We must treat parking spaces as national resources and find a way for optimum reorientation – a visionary parking infrastructure like Google for all vehicles (cars, buses and trucks) linking other transportation services for goods and people.

There are 250 million
vehicles and over 800 million parking spaces in the U.S.

 Private and public spaces form a database for online information such as rates, occupancy, availability and routes to get there – a PARKQUEST like MAPQUEST. PARKQUEST works for parking space as MAPQUEST (Google Maps) uses for going from place A to place B. Technically, it is a Robust Web Parking & Truck Transportation Portal – integrating parking and last mile of transportation.

A new approach is required – define a suburban parking district (SPD) and move all on-street and off-street parking spaces from the city business center (CBC) to SPD so that people can walk freely with no car cruising congesting the city street. Automated transport vehicles should transport people from these SPDs to the city center. Meters and gates are relocated and the city land can be restored for urban housing and other economic development to minimize rural and urban economic gaps. 

All parking spaces will be available for online reservation remotely anytime and from anywhere for a one-click solution – similar to locating a supercharging station for a Tesla EV. Alternatively, auto identification and auto invoicing will simplify the billing without even any reservation. “Vision Zero” implementation will reduce road accidents and other injuries – A Scandinavian Mission. 

Similarly, one can define a new Truck Parking District (TPD) in the Interstate Highway corridors in coordination with weighing stations. Many benefits of the above could be imported for transporting goods. No truck will enter the city business centers (CBCs) or even highways in local areas avoiding delay for commuters during office hours. Instead, automated vehicles (smaller trucks) or drones should be used for delivering goods door to door – last mile delivery. A parking arrangement for drones may also be needed in this newly defined TPD. These TPDs are in rural areas creating an opportunity for high paying jobs for local people. 

Goods transportation and managing national and international (Canada & Mexico) 12 million truck transportation using our highways across the country can be fully automated if progressive policies are adopted. Truckers can upload their routes, stop-overs, load types, their maintenance and driving records as they travel from the start to the finish. Truck drivers can also report road conditions and fatalities remotely for highway safety. In addition, resources at the weighing station close to these TPDs can be planned in advance depending on the truck regulations and their arrival at the station.

The above ideas can be combined with a simple Internet or virtual infrastructure interconnecting devices using an iCloud platform – software emulation of hardware functions as much as possible. The iCloud platform is getting smarter everyday with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make statistical decision. Wireless for mobility and data analytics (big data mining) for accuracy (data generated by all connected devices as required by regulations) will form the backbone. It will be like a concert where all instruments play in harmony. Here in the transportation concert, diverse technologies will play in harmony to connect or disconnect devices as and when needed. Geo positioning system (GPS), Bluetooth beacon, Bluetooth low energy emission (BLE), PV cells, EVs, Drones, Cars, Trucks, etc. playing in harmony connected via Internet of Things (IOT) for transporting people and goods. 

The benefits are numerous, such as the configuration and reconfiguration of parking spaces to increase revenues on a short notice, synchronous transportation and parking services, consolidated private and public parking spaces for efficient land use, self-identification of drivers and vehicles for auto invoicing, auto identification of valet and handicapped drivers bringing uniformity. 

Every 500 open spaces generate electricity (2.5 MW) for charging EVs and other use – self-sustainability. In addition, the process reduces air pollution. The greatest benefits are reducing revenue collecting hardware costs by 1/20th ($800 per space to $40 per space) opening one click solution via, or, etc. In fact, the payoff period of new technologies may be shorter than any other existing business model.

Amalendu Chatterjee, Ph.D., is VP-Technology, Eximsoft International. He can be reached at

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Amalendu Chatterjee
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