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Government - Written by on Monday, August 16, 2010 15:20 - 0 Comments

Jeff DeChambeau
Better parking through technology

Every so often an idea comes along that seems to get a lot right, and you’re left with little to do but sit by the sidelines and watch, hoping that it thrives and makes its way to your neck of the woods. San Francisco’s new SFpark.org project is one such idea. Here’s the overview video from their website:

If this works as intended, there’s a lot to like. From the end-user point of view, it’s almost nothing but upside: being able to check online for spot availability, having an increased likelihood of finding free spots on every block, and saving money by parking in less-popular areas. All of this is made possible by using technology to add a market function seamlessly into something that people are already doing; just by going about their business and parking, they’re generating information that makes the system better for everyone–themselves included.

While it remains to be seen if an approach like this will be profitable for the city, some tweaks could be made to their market algorithm so that the average price of a parking spot remains what it is now, keeping revenue where it is. Even if the program doesn’t generate money hand over fist, though, it still benefits the city and community as a whole, with reduced street congestion and pollution as mentioned by the video.

I especially like solutions like this one, as they enjoy the benefits of mass collaboration without actually requiring any additional effort on the part of the mass collaborators, and ample data is generated that can be further studied to try push the parking system to be that much more efficient. Everyone wins.

Bureaucrats of Toronto, take note!

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