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Smart Meters to Streamline Parking in Florida Cities

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【Summary】According to Jorge Alarcon, Delray Beach’s chief parking facilities administrator, parking meter transactions will take a lot faster to complete, from three minutes per transaction to 30 seconds per transaction.

Michael Cheng    Jul 13, 2017 10:00 AM PT
Smart Meters to Streamline Parking in Florida Cities

Upgrading transportation on public roads requires a collective effort from automakers and city officials. Infrastructure, roadways, traffic lights, urban networks and signs must be properly maintained and upgraded to allow cars to reach their destination efficiently with minimal delays.

These foundational elements are starting to play more critical roles in driving, as vehicles utilize sensors to better understand their environment and make decisions in real-time. In the state of Florida, some cities are preparing for the era of modern transportation by upgrading their parking meters. Connected to the city network, the units will be capable of facilitating digital payments, managing surge rates and monitoring occupancy trends in busy locations.

"In front of retail stores, owners want parking to turn over on a quick basis," said Kathy Taylor, chief of economic development in the Mayor's Office. "They don't want people parking in front of their business all day."

Seamless Payments and Service

So far, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Miami Beach are leading the adoption of smart parking meters in the region. The meters are designed to make the traditional parking experience more seamless by introducing a myriad of new features. In addition to offering new payment options, the units will be able to adjust pricing, based on demand.

During peak hours, including weekends and dinner, parking rates will increase in order to promote high turnover rates. This is could help reduce congestion in downtown locations, where city officials originally planned to install the meters.

All transactions are saved electronically for recordkeeping, using license tag data. For drivers, this means they don't have to return to the car to place a new receipt on the vehicle for law enforcement patrollers. According to Jorge Alarcon, Delray Beach's chief parking facilities administrator, parking meter transactions will take a lot faster to complete, from three minutes per transaction to 30 seconds per transaction.

There is one major drawback with the smart parking meter campaign currently underway in Florida. The introduction of smart parking meters in locations that never used them will eliminate free parking in those areas. 

Integrating Mobile Applications and Sensors

City officials have expressed interest in other technologies to add value to the smart parking meters. Some groups are considering a mobile app that lets residents pay for extended parking remotely.

"When we transitioned, it was a lot simpler on the customer side," explained Saul Frances, a city parking director. "From an enforcement perspective, they don't have to look at receipts or zones. Now they have handheld devices that let them scan license plates to see if people are in the right zones and if they paid or not."

When autonomous cars hit public roads, the parking meters will serve very important purposes. Equipped with sensors, the units could provide environmental data and real-time information about road conditions through V2I networks. Eventually, payments for parking reservation fees will be made automatically between the car and the meter – eliminating the need to engage a mobile app or keep a close eye on selected time periods.

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