Mike Langberg of The Mercury News wrote an interesting article about a few start-ups that are testing decidedly high tech approaches to solving parking nightmares between San Jose and Oakland. Streetline Networks, for example, is testing the use of special sensors embedded in street surfaces at 250 spaces controlled by the Port of San Francisco. Considering how precious our parking is, there's gold in the streets of San Francisco. Up until now, meters have been mute and largely unchanged from their introduction in 1935, providing information only in terms of the number of coins deposited during any given time period. The sensors, which are activated when covered (presumably by a parked car and not street rubbish), can provide information in real-time that could enable the Port to change pricing depending on usage patterns.
Streetline is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the innumerable sensor-based and other tech-oriented solutions being tested. We're still in the pioneering stages, far from seeing any one solution becoming universally adopted. Considering the desperate problem that parking currently represents, city parking managers who must evaluate this sea of alternatives may quickly experience their own form of sensor overload.