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Electronic Parking Reservation System

Search for and reserve a parking space before you leave the house
  (+9, -1)(+9, -1)
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I hate having to search for parking. Instead, I want to be able to go online and see a graphical display of the area I drive go to and see a real-time display of cars parked and reservations. That way I will know where parking is available. No more driving around the block searching for a spot and trying to figure out whether the "no parking" sign applies to your spot or the space in front of you. Also, both street parking and parking garages would be searchable. That way you won't end up paying $5 per half hour when there is a parking lot that charges half that two blocks down the street (this has happened to me. Parking in SF is ridiculous.).

Here is how I think the interface should work: you type in your destination and estimated time of arrival into a web site. Then it brings up a screen with a map of the area. Available parking spaces are shown in green and reserved spaces are shown in red. Rates and time limits will be displayed next to the parking spots. You can then click on a space to enter your license plate number and reserve it using a credit card. When you get there, just park in your reserved space! This system can be enforced by checking that the proper car is in each parking space.

I can think of a number of ways to improve this as well. These parking spaces could be limited to people carrying electronic identification transmitters in their cars. When you pull into the space, your car will automatically notify the area that you have pulled into the space. This will allow real-time displays of currently parked cars, automatic billing, and easier enforcement.

Another option is to dispense with the advance reservation system and have an automatic real-time parking search system. As you drive toward your destination, a computer onboard your car would automatically start searching for parking spots. It would display a map of parking spaces and costs. If you see one you like, then you can reserve it and it will send a message to the parking lot to reserve it for you. Then the computer would give you directions to the spot. No more hunting for parking spaces only to have someone else steal it before you can pull into the space.

The main problem with this is that it would require drivers and parking places to install special equipment, but I think it would make it much easier to drive to places with limited parking, or at least inform you that there isn't any parking before you leave your house. It would take all the uncertainty out of looking for parking.

gjlee, Apr 06 2001

BMW Parking Research http://www.telemati...english/pe_park.htm
It looks like BMW is working on something similar [gjlee, Apr 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Smart Parking Garages http://www.halfbake...20Parking_20Garages
mgrant's idea on smarter parking garages [mgrant, Apr 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

"parking reservations" http://www.google.c...Google+Search&hl=en
Results 1 - 10 of about 2,670. Search took 0.21 seconds [thumbwax, Mar 29 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Smart Parking Market Research Survey http://surveymonkey...s.asp?u=36202913120
I am actually a student working on a very similar project for a business plan competition. We came across this thread during our research, and would be very interested in your input. If you have a moment to take our survey, it would be very helpful in our feasibility study. Please feel free to forward the link to any of your friends who drive as well. [quovadimus, Mar 08 2005]


       Hardly baked - gjlee's solution would work in any dense area, not just the one he usually goes to.   

       It would probably begin with parking garages only, which wold save the time & uncertainty problem, but not the money problem.   

       Eventually a neighborhood could respond "There's no parking here tonight, but you can park at the suburb three miles away. Reserve space yes/no? Wait for shuttle (estimated wait 5 min.)? or have a cab waiting?"
hello_c, Apr 06 2001

       PeterSealy, a parking garage may work if you need to park in the same place every day, such as for work, but I'm thinking about the times when I want to go to a restaurant in San Francisco, or when I go rollerblading in Golden Gate Park. I don't park in those places frequently enough to justify a parking garage subscription.
gjlee, Apr 06 2001

       UnaBubba: Ah, but since the inconsiderate SUV driver doesn't have a reservation, he can be ticketed.
gjlee, Apr 11 2001

       Okay, no.   

       Reserving parking spaces before you get there would rarely be efficient and would mostly be inefficient. Let's think this one through: How often do you have your entire day mapped out? What happens to all the "reserved" spaces that aren't used because plans were scrapped? Does your reservation merely get you a space, or get you one for a certain amount of time? If the former, how long do you plan to stay? If the latter, what happens when someone books the space at exactly the time you should be gone but you're not? Do garages, etc., overbook so as to accomodate? "Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."   

       I live in the traffic capital of the world and despise finding parking as much as the next guy (especially on the westside, where none exists) but this idea wouldn't make things better, it'd make them worse. See, I'd rather be pissed that the lot IS actually full, than looking at a partially filled lot and be told, "I'm sorry, the lot's full...they're all reserved."
iuvare, Apr 12 2001

       Hey, if someone reserves a space and they're *paying* for it, why not leave it empty? After all, many garages have regular tennants, they have to guarantee those tennants a space, so they are forced to leave at least that much space vacant anyway. I don't see much of a difference here.   

       I think the idea's fine and could even be implemented today with just a simple web page for each garage or a web site for all the city garages. I think this is an excellent oppertunity for some web site programmer.   

       For the real time parking stuff, some of that already exists, I regularly park in a garage that keeps track of empty spaces (but not who's in them). The garage has a guidance system that guides you to where the free spaces are and tells you "3 ->" or "^ 5 ^". So I don't think it's useful to reserve a specific space, just anyone will do. See the link to my idea on smarter garages.
mgrant, Apr 17 2001

       I think this is an almost fantastic system except for some problems:   

       It becomes efficient for the driver only as the number of spaces dwindles to where garages become full.   

       There're already practices that keeps garages from becoming completely full: higher prices and valet parking. The former encourages remote parking, and the latter is like a virtual parking space that never runs out. (You just have to swap cars in and out).   

       The parking spot search system, however, would be very useful, and reduce the amount of fuel burned in a search for a space. The issue is creating a signaling system that's fair - you don't want two people rushing to the same space.
wildgift, May 10 2001

       Baked - San Francisco included - See link
thumbwax, Mar 29 2002


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