Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
A car parks on Burlingame Avenue, which has new SmartMeter sensors in the spaces.
A Foster City-based company is helping Peninsula residents find parking used their smartphones, a high-tech option that lowers congestion while also helping cities gather data about parking.
Streetline’s free Parker app, available for Android and iOS systems, provides users with a map of all the parking lots in a given area, with parking costs and how long motorists can park. Additionally, if a city pays the company, it will install sensors embedded in the pavement of parking spaces to detect real-time availability using the hands-free app. It also updates information about garage and lot location parking spots. Users can even pay for parking through the app.
Burlingame recently decided to work with Streetline after it found the maps of its parking garages weren’t accurate, said Vice Mayor Terry Nagel.
As of a couple weeks ago, the maps were made accurate after staff worked with the company to fix them but the city doesn’t have a contract with Streetline to allow for up-to-date parking space information. There are city parking sensors called SmartMeters on Burlingame Avenue and the city wants to see how they work before looking into the costs of implementation for the rest of the downtown area, said Public Works Director Syed Murtuza.
“You can go and look at where parking is and plan around that,” said Murtuza. “It took only a few weeks to fix and it is very advantageous.”
Nagel said she’s received a lot of positive feedback about the app, especially with the Burlingame Streetscape beautification project. The city needs to do everything it can make parking easier for people, she said.
“I’m getting people coming up to me and saying ‘this is great,’” she said. “One of big problems we have in Burlingame is people are not aware of parking lots around the area. It’s really very handy with so many people who continue to complain about there not being enough parking.”
Currently, there are 40 locations in United States with the real-time parking availability and three places in Europe. There are 25,000 garages and lots across the U.S. on the app.
Of those 40 cities, both San Carlos and San Mateo partnered with Cisco to install the sensors free of charge as pilot projects with Streetline. San Carlos’ pilot began in October while San Mateo’s started about a year ago and focuses on better managing downtown parking. Redwood City is also using the real-time app.
The San Carlos project was somewhat controversial since some residents worried it could mean the city was trying to explore charging for parking by observing how much parking is used and on what days and at what times. The evaluation also looks at how long cars are parking in key locations throughout downtown.
Matt Bronson, San Mateo’s assistant city manager, said of the city’s 3,000 downtown parking spots, the sensors are in about 135 street parking spaces on Third Avenue and B Street. The project lasts two years.
“So far it’s worked out well,” Bronson said. “It helps the city better identify parking demand and how we can better manage and enforce parking spaces downtown. There’s a relatively high demand of on-street spaces in downtown. At its core, it’s data to help the city and customers to make better choices.”
Over the next year and beyond, if the city continued to use the service it would do additional marketing for the app. San Mateo is currently evaluating the use of parking sensors and their benefits, Bronson said. It is looking into mobile payments, street garage pay stations and garages that tell users how many spaces are available.
Kurt Buecheler, Streetline’s senior vice president of business development, and the company’s services are very helpful to customers, merchants, cities and, eventually, car vendors. Streetline also has a ParkerMap app, which allows merchants to publicize available parking around a facility.
“It’s very rare to find a win-win in life and this is a win-win-win,” he said. “Parking is the third largest revenue source in city.”
He said in the future, cameras will also play a role in determining parking occupancy.
Cities have seven financial options for the real-time parking updates. They include a $200 activation fee, a monthly charge that depends on which software application used and a $20 per space per month.
Buecheler said Parker generates additional revenue for the city and with smart parking it gets people turning off their cars faster since they spend less time searching for a spot doing a “blind squirrel shuffle.” According to Streetline’s data, the app has led to a 41 percent decrease in time spent looking for parking, a 22 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled while looking for parking and a decrease in 20 percent in price paid for a parking space by hour for those areas with demand-based pricing.
“There’s less CO2 emissions,” he said. “When you lower congestion, you raise a city’s gross domestic product. People really, really find parking to be a pain in the neck and people are saying hallelujah with this app.”
For more information on Parker visit www.streetline.com/find-parking/parker-mobile.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105