e-Parking Meter Management System

 

 

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Many cities have experimented with parking meters coupled with various kinds of sensors. Newport Beach, California, for a while had meters that would keep track of how long a car had been parked without moving and would not give any more time after the time limit had passed. The parking meters in Pacific Grove, California, can also employ a progressive-rate schedule (the longer you are parked the more expensive it becomes); the meters also reset to zero when a car leaves the spot. New York City is starting to deploy Intelligent Parking Meters which force compliance with the rules of the parking space; hand-held devices communicating with the meters over infra-red communications links can reprogram the meters’ parameters and retrieve the meters’ parking statistics. Many other cities around the country are starting to buy similar systems. However, these kinds of meters, developed by companies such as InnovaPark and Intelligent Devices, do not have centralized management or help officers identify violations.

 

Montreal, Canada, currently uses one of the most sophisticated systems in the market. Montreal has installed “pay and go” multi-space meters developed by Cale Systems and 8D Technologies. A driver parks in a numbered space, goes to the nearest meter, pays for the space in which he is parked, and leaves; the driver does not need to go back to his car to display the receipt. Enforcement officers carry hand-held devices that communicate wirelessly with the meters. When a hand-held device pulls information from the meters around it, it displays a graphic representation of the area where paid spaces appear in green and unpaid spaces appear in red. The officer can then check the red spaces; any car parked in a red space requires a ticket. This system differs from ours in two main ways. First, there are no sensors to identify whether or not there is a car parked in a given spot. Therefore, all unpaid spaces are potential violations and the officer needs to check all of them. In our system, payment information is combined with that of the sensor to alert officers of only those spaces that are known to contain an actual violation. Second, in Montreal the meters’ usage information can only be accessed by a hand-held device in the area. The information is not automatically relayed to a central office. Our system automatically aggregates all the information in the central office and makes it available to municipal officials.

 

Telecommunications Research Laboratory has patented a functionally similar system that they call the “Smart Parking Meter System.” This system does include the sensor functionality to track the presence of vehicles and thus alerts officers only of spaces in violation. A team of Rutgers students implemented a similar design as their senior design project in 2004. However, in both cases the second difference still stands. The devices have to retrieve usage data from the parking meters and upload it to a central server for analysis. In our system, the central server automatically receives this data for the entire city.

 

Basu and Little describe a system coupled with sensors and GPS receivers. Their system is primarily designed to help drivers find a parking space that meets their needs. Drivers would possess a mobile device with which they can make a wide variety of queries to nearby parking meters. The parking meters maintain communication with other parking meters and possess information about their own status and the status of nearby meters. This information is used to answer the question posed and the answer is sent to the mobile device. Enforcement officers can make use of the system by making a general query “Display the overall status of parking in the area.” The answer in this case will include all nearby parking spaces and their current state. This system still does not have centralized management. The devices only have access to current information and only when they request it.
A system patented by Jeffrey Marin is a step closer to automatically enforcing parking regulations. In this system, the meters are equipped with sensors that detect the presence of a vehicle. The meter is also coupled with cameras that capture images of the vehicles. When the meter determines that there is a vehicle in violation, the images are sent to a central office where the owner can be identified and a summons created. In this system, the central office only possesses information on violations, but not general usage statistics.

 

Japan currently has a system that is functionally similar to what we wish to implement. The main objective in their case is not to issue tickets more effectively, but to guide drivers toward available parking through electronic boards on the streets. However, what is behind that capability is what we want to achieve, centrally monitored parking meters where the status of each parking meter can be viewed from a central office. The difference between this system and ours is that in this case the parking meters are connected to the central office by means of leased lines as opposed to wireless communication.  This eliminates most issues associated with topology discovery, data aggregation, transmission reliability, and to some extent power consumption.