Parking Meter Pay-By-Phone

Lynne Kiesling

Lately in the KP household we’ve been marveling even more than usual at the extent to which technology has beneficially transformed our lives. Yesterday we had a macabre, earthy sharing of stories, while visiting with friends and meeting their new daughter, about 19th-century doctors not realizing a woman was pregnant with twins, or thinking she was pregnant only to find out 10 months later that the woman had a bouncing baby (benign) tumor. The miracle of ultrasound.

Here’s another installment, one that is less dramatic and evocative but is still cool nonetheless: wireless parking meter networks with pay-by-phone capabilities. This Information Week article describes the technology and its benefits for parkers and for municipalities:

PhotoViolationMeter, or PVM, calls drivers to warn them that the meter is running out of time and provides a pay-by-phone option to refill the meter. When drivers first park, they can pay with debit or credit cards, or spare change.

“We designed the meter so that you’re not slapped with a $30 fine simply because you ran out of change,” Fred Mitschele, president and CEO of Photo Violation Technologies, said in a statement. “The No-Fine feature offers you the option of automatically paying in timed increments with your credit card so you avoid the risk of a ticket. Or you can take advantage of the Grace Period option. The city gives you a grace period by pre-programming a certain amount of time that you can pay for extra minutes before it turns into a parking violation. No other meter can do that.”

PVM runs on a wireless network and also offers free Internet hotspots for drivers who carry their laptops and other electronic devices in their cars. Hotspots are also open to emergency responders who may need additional options for communications in large-scale situations.

The benefits for local governments go beyond emergencies, however.

The meters also photograph license plates, providing evidence for prosecution when cars do violate parking laws. The meters’ sensors reset each time a car parks in the corresponding space, decreasing the likelihood cities will lose money on scofflaws who are not caught by traffic police.

How cool is that? Once you start thinking about parking meters as a distributed communications network, think about the potential value … this idea has my mind reeling, excitedly! The article does not mention the incremental cost of this system, but if you could have consumers pay for hotspot access in 10-minute intervals, etc., I bet you could defray quite a bit of the cost and have a pretty short payback period on the investment.


11 thoughts on “Parking Meter Pay-By-Phone

  1. Whatever happens it will be better than the parking meter Gestapo that increasingly is seen in big cities. I do not know whether cities make or lose money in enforcing the penalties of parking violations–what a waste of man power to flood the streets with meter maids! Of course now these poor folks will be out of jobs, I do hope they have a lobby that will ensure they are treated “fairly” when their jobs disappear . I second your sentiments, though: Hurray for technology!

  2. This is an interesting idea, to be sure. But I can’t help but be reminded of an old Dilbert comic, where the pointy-haired boss is discussing his idea for an on-tap toothpaste system. “If the water company can pipe water to my house, why can’t the toothpaste company do the same? … And don’t get me started about pudding!”

  3. This is an interesting idea, to be sure. But I can’t help but be reminded of an old Dilbert comic, where the pointy-haired boss is discussing his idea for an on-tap toothpaste system. “If the water company can pipe water to my house, why can’t the toothpaste company do the same? … And don’t get me started about pudding!”

  4. This is an interesting idea, to be sure. But I can’t help but be reminded of an old Dilbert comic, where the pointy-haired boss is discussing his idea for an on-tap toothpaste system. “If the water company can pipe water to my house, why can’t the toothpaste company do the same? … And don’t get me started about pudding!”

  5. Between Belgium and Japan, you have a few related variants.

    (1) No change stores, with change beamed onto your cell phone, or deposited at the next store as needed. The same change can also be deposited into meters *without* leaving a banking record, so this method is preferred for certain classes of lunch-time meetingsā€¦
    (2) Phone with Thumbprint as Key to Car or Home. This is being brought to the US by a security firm out of Charlottesville VA.

    Add to this the pre-paid cell phone, with its pervasive time capability, and you have the club med no watch or wallet single device cash of the future.

  6. Between Belgium and Japan, you have a few related variants.

    (1) No change stores, with change beamed onto your cell phone, or deposited at the next store as needed. The same change can also be deposited into meters *without* leaving a banking record, so this method is preferred for certain classes of lunch-time meetingsā€¦
    (2) Phone with Thumbprint as Key to Car or Home. This is being brought to the US by a security firm out of Charlottesville VA.

    Add to this the pre-paid cell phone, with its pervasive time capability, and you have the club med no watch or wallet single device cash of the future.

  7. I prefer a a more consumer-serving alternative that can also reduce pollution and congestion.

    Pay by phone for parking, only get charged for the amount of time you actually use, get a reminder via phone when your time is running low + be able to re-feed your meter from where ever you are + have the charge on your credit card only after you come back to your car, notify by phone that you are leaving – and pay only a small fee for the service. Using SMS to make it all go faster is a bonus.

    S.F. has an experiment going on right now with 3 pay-by-phone firms: Verrus, New Parking & Zipidy.

    All 3 offer some of the above yet Zippidy is the only one I think to offer all.
    Some day we may catch up with the UK, The Netherlands, Japan and Finland.

  8. I prefer a a more consumer-serving alternative that can also reduce pollution and congestion.

    Pay by phone for parking, only get charged for the amount of time you actually use, get a reminder via phone when your time is running low + be able to re-feed your meter from where ever you are + have the charge on your credit card only after you come back to your car, notify by phone that you are leaving – and pay only a small fee for the service. Using SMS to make it all go faster is a bonus.

    S.F. has an experiment going on right now with 3 pay-by-phone firms: Verrus, New Parking & Zipidy.

    All 3 offer some of the above yet Zippidy is the only one I think to offer all.
    Some day we may catch up with the UK, The Netherlands, Japan and Finland.

  9. I prefer a a more consumer-serving alternative that can also reduce pollution and congestion.

    Pay by phone for parking, only get charged for the amount of time you actually use, get a reminder via phone when your time is running low + be able to re-feed your meter from where ever you are + have the charge on your credit card only after you come back to your car, notify by phone that you are leaving – and pay only a small fee for the service. Using SMS to make it all go faster is a bonus.

    S.F. has an experiment going on right now with 3 pay-by-phone firms: Verrus, New Parking & Zipidy.

    All 3 offer some of the above yet Zippidy is the only one I think to offer all.
    Some day we may catch up with the UK, The Netherlands, Japan and Finland.

  10. I prefer a a more consumer-serving alternative that can also reduce pollution and congestion.

    Pay by phone for parking, only get charged for the amount of time you actually use, get a reminder via phone when your time is running low + be able to re-feed your meter from where ever you are + have the charge on your credit card only after you come back to your car, notify by phone that you are leaving – and pay only a small fee for the service. Using SMS to make it all go faster is a bonus.

    S.F. has an experiment going on right now with 3 pay-by-phone firms: Verrus, New Parking & Zipidy.

    All 3 offer some of the above yet Zippidy is the only one I think to offer all.
    Some day we may catch up with the UK, The Netherlands, Japan and Finland.

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