The parking meter is texting you a warning

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Say au revoir to meter maids, and perhaps some of your precious cash, as well. A new type of electronic, networked parking meter is headed our way, one that can't be talked out of a ticket.

A new system currently being employed in France uses smart (aka "Stoolie") parking meters to keep an eye on the vehicle parked at their posts and alerts the cops when time is expired. The meters detect vehicles through the interruption to the magnetic field they generate, and use built-in computer links to ping the police station.

The local gendarmes in Issy-les-Moulineaux have more heart for the parking criminal class, however, and give drivers a 15-minute grace period before sending a text message to dispatch the local traffic cop on the beat . The Managing Director of the company that makes the device, Technolia, says that the company hopes to expand the system so that motorists can register a personal I.D. number and mobile phone number (for a charge, no doubt), with the company. The company could then warn them, via text message, when their meter was about to zero out.

Given the importance that parking meter fees play in many city budgets, I look for this technology to quickly sweep across the U.S. . A Maryland firm, ItelliPark, has already tested similar technology here, which promises yet another benefit; their meters detect when a car leaves a space and automatically zeros out the meter. No more free minutes for you! It claims that its system can increase city revenues by 20-50%

I'd expect smart meters to be phased in on the same model as red light cameras; the company will offer them to cities free of charge, in return for the right to sell parking passes for the meters (a cut of which goes to the city) and a share of the parking violation fees collected.

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