Lack of bandwidth can bring your on-street parking operations to its knees.


Lack of bandwidth can bring your on-street parking operations to its knees.

Consider the problem. When pay by plate/space machines communicate with your office, they use the same communications systems as your cell phone (Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, etc). I’m sure you have experienced a situation where you phone works fine at some times and doesn’t at others. That usually happens when the system is deluged with folks calling, texting, and searching google. It simply isn’t built to handle every phone working at the same time.

So when someone enters their plate or space at a payment machine, that information is sent back to central and then distributed out to enforcement officers so they can confirm that a certain vehicle has paid for parking. If not, they can issue a citation, usually on the same device that received the info in the first place.

But what would happen if the cell phone communications system was deluged with phone traffic and the information about vehicles parking was unable to be sent to your office and then distributed to the officers in the field. It would mean that enforcement comes to a screeching halt, or that the officers had to go to each P and D and then write citations by hand.

Never Happen, you say. HA

What if you are a beach city with a full-blown system that operates as described above. What if it’s the Fourth of July and everyone and his uncle has come to the beach for the day. And everyone of them is using their phone to text, call, and play. What happens to your parking enforcement operation.

As one officer told me, they went from the most technological advanced citation management system to one step above a chisel and tablet in just a few minutes. They are currently in negotiations with the local telcos to broaden the bandwidth. Who knows what that result will be.

That old law of unintended consequences always seems to sneak up and bite us when we least expect it.


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John Van Horn

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