Open parking spaces? Check your smartphone

park190 Nice work, San Francisco. Nice work.

This fall, San Francisco will be testing a system of 4-inch by 4-inch mesh-networked bumps glued to 25% of the city’s parking spaces. The bumps will be linked to various wireless networks, which will relay parking information to a smartphone-friendly website and nearby street signs.

So instead of driving around the block 15 times, you’ll be able to see where the closest open parking space is located and zip right over to it. What I’ll be interested to see is how many accidents are caused by people trying to bring up this website on their phones while driving. Hopefully it’ll still be worth it.

According to the New York Times,

“The device, called a ‘bump,’ is battery operated and intended to last for five and 10 years without service. From the street the bumps form a mesh of wireless Internet signals that funnel data to parking meters on to a central management office near the San Francisco city hall.

Streetline has technology that will display open parking spaces on Web sites that can be accessed through wireless devices like smartphones. They are also developing a low-cost battery-operated street display that will be able to alert drivers to open parking spots nearby.“

If proven successful in San Francisco, this system (or similar systems) may be deployed in other areas of the country. New York City hasn’t announced any plans yet, but a recent study by a public transit group showed that “28 percent to 45 percent of traffic on some streets in New York City is generated by people circling the blocks,” according to the Times.

San Francisco hopes to keep 85% of its metered parking spaces open at all times. With this new system in place, the city will be able to adjust the length of time allowed for each spot so that, for instance, parking outside of restaurants could be lengthened at night but shortened during the day time.

via BBG