A system of sensors monitoring on street parking has been installed as a test in Ft. Worth, Tx. Some citizens are upset because amongst other things, the sensors "reset" the meters when a car leaves the space. This means you can’t use the "extra" time left over from the previous parker. AND since the sensor knows when you arrived and when you leave (if you leave) the rule that you can’t "feed" the meter can be actually enforced. Read all about it here.
The fellow who called the new technology "a crock" was also someone who worked downtown and liked to park his car on the street, feed the meter, and take up valuable space that should have been kept for merchant’s customers.
In addition to meter resetting, the sensors provide statistical data as to lenght of stays, the actual amount of tickets that are never written (people who overstay the meters and aren’t caught). and give the city solid information to be used for pricing and the like.
These systems are springing up across the country, in large cities and small towns. San Francisco and Los Angeles havet tests going, and small towns on the Jersey Shore are using the sensors to justify keeping parking charges during the off tourist season. With good statistical data, the parking chiefs and go to the city council and prove that parking needs to be controlled during times that simple observational data would note that it doesn’t.
The problem with on street monitoring is that unless the spaces are covered with a sensor that tracks just how long a car is in place, there is virtually no way of knowing how long people park, and during what periods the parking is full or there are spaces available.
Observation doesnt’ work. When you observe a car present, you don’t know whether it "just arrived" or had been sitting there for hours. In addition, unless you observe the car leaving, how would you know when it left?
The sensors track all that data and then "upload" it to a central database through the hand held PDA"s carried by parking management personnel or in some cases, a wi-fi on line network. The data can then be reviewed by the parking staff and used to make knowledgeable plans.
In one case a mayor demanded that the downtown parking be extended to four hours. He commented that people needed that time for theaters and lingering lunches. The stats provided by the system showed that the average "dewll time" of cars on street was about 50 minutes. The one hour rules were kept in force.
A local wag noted that the mayor’s wife ran a quilting class downtown that lasted four hours. Funny how these things happen.