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ExpressPark Set to Stack the Deck in Favor of Parking Enforcement

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at 07:46AM
New Credit Card Meter on 9th Eric Richardson [Flickr]

10,000 new parking meters that accept credit card payments were installed by the city last summer.

Ever feel like the meter maid has a sixth sense when it comes to arriving just exactly when your meter has run out? Expect that feeling to get a lot stronger in 2012 as the City of Los Angeles rolls out a system that will give computers a live view of 6,000 on-street parking spaces around Downtown.

Included in the specifications for the ExpressPark program is a "Guided Enforcement System" that will "alert and route enforcement officers to potential violations." A live map view will route officers to potential violations, listing them in spot-level detail.

The technology isn't all one-sided toward parking enforcement, however. Specifications also require that registered parkers be able to add time to their meter via text or email when given an alert saying that the clock is running low.

The ambitious program hit a speed bump in December when the two bids submitted to build the project both came in over the $18.5 million budget. Reworked bids were submitted in March, and the city's Department of Transportation is recommending that Xerox arm ACS State & Local Solutions be given the job.

The delay means that equipment installation will not be complete until February of 2012, with the project fully operational by April.

While the city's parking spaces already got a dose of high-tech guts with the rollout of 10,000 new smart meters in 2010, the ExpressPark program takes that effort several steps further by integrating meter data and occupancy sensors installed in the street to create a realtime picture of how Downtown's parking spaces are being used.

That data will allow pricing to be dynamically adjusted up or down to achieve the target occupancy rate of 70 to 90 percent. In the eyes of program proponents, that level is the sweet spot in allowing drivers to find fairly priced, available short-term parking.

Much of that smart data will be made available to drivers. The ExpressPark specifications talk of exporting live data to in-car GPS systems and smartphone apps, allowing drivers to be routed directly to an available space.

Even the collection of coins will get a dose of high-tech accountability. An audit released in January by City Controller Wendy Greuel (PDF) showed that the transportation department lacked proper data on how and how often meter revenues were collected. ExpressPark requires RFID tags on each meter coin can that will be scanned when the meter is collected. Data reported back to the system will allow collection routes to be optimized based on use, cutting down on personnel time and environmental impact by making sure meters are collected only when they are getting full.

The result of pulling all these high-tech systems together should be something special, project manager Peer Ghent told blogdowntown in December. "The part that's never been done is the management system to integrate all these different systems."

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