in Cheap Thoughts, Futurist, Raleigh, X-Geek

Cheap Thoughts: Parking meter app



Paying for parking? There’s an app for that. Or at least there should be.

Walking down a downtown sidewalk this week, I pondered a sawed-off pipe near the curb where an old-fashioned parking meter once stood. A few years ago, the City of Raleigh got rid of all the traditional coin-based parking meters and put up new electronic parking kiosks instead. Drivers simply note the painted number for their parking space and enter that into the kiosk along with their payment.

Simple, right? Instead of collecting coins from hundreds of meters, parking staff simply empty the money from kiosks, which take credit cards and paper bills in addition to coins. Drivers can also refresh their parking time from nearby kiosks, avoiding a trip back to the kiosk nearest the car.

But what if this was taken a step further? Why send drivers back to a kiosk at all? Why not handle the transaction through a smart phone? When drivers use the NC 540 toll road, they don’t have to fumble for cash. Instead, computers read their vehicles’ license plates and bill them. Why can’t we do the same thing with parking?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a parking app? A driver could scan a QR-code painted on her space and keep on going to her destination, her parking fee automatically deducted from her account. Renewing the space could be done from anywhere.

I wonder what it would take to implement this.

Update 9:09 PM: ParkMobile operates in the D.C. area and looks like it’s offering service now in a few areas in Raleigh now, too.

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