San Francisco's Real-Time Smart Parking System Is Up and Running San Francisco's Real-Time Smart Parking System Is Up and Running
Design

San Francisco's Real-Time Smart Parking System Is Up and Running

by Andrew Price

April 27, 2011

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness—and a parking spot! For decades, Americans have assumed that there will always be a convenient place to put that car. But in an increasingly urban future, that's just not going to be true. So how do we allocate scarce parking spots in a smart way? With technology, of course.

San Francisco just rolled out its SFPark system in eight pilot neighborhoods. SFPark uses sensors in parking spots to detect when they're occupied. Using the SFPark website or iPhone app, citizens can see where there are free spaces, and how much they'll cost, right now. Then, beginning this summer, the city will actually start changing the price of parking spaces based on demand. Rates will change as often as once a month, dropping to as little as $.25 per hour in places where demand is low and rising to as much as $6.00 per hour on the most congested city blocks.

The upshot? San Francisco hopes there will be fewer drivers searching blindly for spots, clogging the streets and polluting the air, and, as the price of parking rises to a market rate, more people opting for public transportation. It's free (market) parking. Adam Smith would be proud.

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San Francisco's Real-Time Smart Parking System Is Up and Running