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Decatur, Georgia, pilots wireless parking enforcement scheme

September 29, 2009

Decatur, Georgia, pilots wireless parking enforcement scheme

The city of Decatur in Georgia has taken a new approach to manage its parking meters and is testing a wireless system that could improve asset management, increase revenue, and make it easier for employees to do their jobs. Within the pilot, the city has deployed 56 new wireless Smart Meters from StreetSmart Technology in the central part of the city. Sensors embedded in the parking spaces detect when a vehicle is present. The meters track what time a vehicle arrives, how much money was inserted into the meter, and when the vehicle leaves the space. When the vehicle leaves, the meter balance automatically returns to zero.

Data from the meters is sent wirelessly to the StreetSmart Data Center, providing real-time information to supervisors and parking officials via an online portal. The system keeps track of how much time has been purchased for each space, and whether the vehicle in the space has exceeded the two-hour time limit. Information about the meters is transmitted wirelessly to Motorola MC35 mobile computers used by parking enforcement officers to help them locate meters that are in violation. In addition, the city has piloted StreetSmart’s Pay by Cell system, developed with mobile payment solutions provider MobileNOW!, which allows drivers to set up a debit account at http://www.goparknow.com and use their cellphones to pay for parking.

Kennesaw, Georgia-based, Telemetry Labs manages the network operations center, which includes the online portal, data center, and the presentation and storage of the meter information, as well as the communication with the mobile computers. “We wanted to modernize our operations with new technology,” suggests Juan Wharton, parking operations manager with the Decatur Parking, Assistance, Liaison with Merchants and Safety (PALS) Division. “Specifically, the city wanted to gather valuable data on meter usage, such as occupancy rates and high-use times and to be alerted when meters had expired.” The system has also helped the city capture lost parking and ticket revenue, because staff are now alerted to expired meters they might have otherwise missed, and other drivers can no longer take the leftover minutes on meters. According to Wharton, the city has increased its collection days from two times per week to three in the test area, to manage the extra revenue in the meters.

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