Meter Snaps Violators 'In the Act'
May, 2006Photo Violation Technologies (PVT), the Vancouver, Canada-based company that has developed a new type of parking meter, has been testing and demonstrating its new product at on-street sites and trade shows across the country. It also has been the focus of an unprecedented PR barrage that has found the product featured in major newspaper and TV stories since its introduction late last year.
Although the product has not yet been installed except in test cases, its "splash" has been so widespread that even the TV show "CSI Miami" used the meter's photo capacity to round up "bad guys" in a recent episode.
Parking Today caught up with the company's founder, Fred Mitschele, at the Intertraffic show in Amsterdam last month and was able to receive an in-depth review of the new parking meter.
The design of the meter allows it not only to accept money (in various forms), but also to track the vehicle in the space (through an in-ground, hockey puck-size device), and thus know when the vehicle is in violation. It can then actually issue a citation, which is mailed to the vehicle's owner.
That feature in itself would be unique; however, PVT goes one step further, by taking a picture of the vehicle in the space and printing it on the citation, thus removing all doubt as to its validity. If desired, the system also can notify on-street parking officers, who can go to the location and print the citation (on printers they carry) and leave it on the vehicle.
As with all brand-new products, the jury is still out. However, assuming it can deliver what its inventor says, it could revolutionize on-street parking management for municipalities everywhere.
According to the company, the two-space meter makes parking fair for all users by providing every way to pay. Drivers have the option of paying by coin (multiple-currency accepted), phone or debit, credit or smart card right at their vehicle. There are a no-fine option, grace periods and instant notifications (all patent pending). Additionally, the system is networked and can communicate with a central control computer over various methods, including the local cell network and wi-fi.
The no-fine feature gives drivers the option of simply swiping a credit card and the photo violation meter (PVM ) incrementally adds time to the meter, billing the credit card as time passes, and stops billing the minute the vehicle pulls away.
The grace period feature is available to drivers who are running late, allowing payment at the meter for expired time, rather than receiving a violation. If they cannot return within the grace period, they have the option of paying for violations at the meter for a discounted fine.
The instant notification feature notifies the driver of - and prevents payment for - rush hour and no-parking conditions, preventing user vehicles from being towed. The option of adding time remotely by phone, eliminating any third party provider fees, is integrated into the PVM, and surpasses stand-alone pay-by-phone systems.
Features such as these are designed to ensure that drivers pay for the time they use - no more, no less. And all these features can be deactivated or adjusted to fit local needs and ordinances, according to the company.
Municipal governments will greatly benefit from this revolutionary system, as it can deliver considerably more revenue compared with the current technologies. The PVM is the only meter that can enforce itself by issuing photo violations automatically.
When a vehicle parks and moves away without payment, the camera takes a picture of the offending vehicle's license plate and sends it to the central processing center. This will drastically cut down on violation disputes and court time by providing a picture of the offending vehicle's license plate to prove that it was in violation. This self-monitoring meter allows municipal parking personnel to maximize their time and eliminate inefficiencies, the company says.
This means that income - both parking fees and citations - that was missed because of the impossibility of enforcing every space all the time is now collected. Some studies have shown that this can be a loss of up to five times the amount currently being collected.
Mitschele told PT that by the time this article is in print, production models of the meter will have been shipped to fill orders that are currently in-house.