Big Brother is watching you park your car

Digital Payment Technologies, a Burnaby tech company serving the parking industry, has developed a new payment method that differs from the usual, “remember stall number, punch in stall number, pay and leave” method. They’re introducing a new system that lets customers pay by simply typing in their license plate number. DPT says that this will improve revenues and enforcement for operators, while making things easier for parking lot users.

From a press release:

With [Pay By License Plate], operators will capture more revenue by eliminating the “pass back” of unexpired parking permits from one parker to another. In addition, with the license plate as the key identifier, municipalities can do away with marked spaces in on-street applications, gaining additional revenue by accommodating more vehicles within existing curb space while reducing the costs of maintaining parking space lines, numbers and signs.

“Municipalities can do away with marked spaces?” I don’t know about that — frankly, I’d like to see where parking is allowed laid out clearly for all to see. Okay, maybe DPT is a little ambitious with their new technology, but here’s where things might get a little creepy:

With … License-plate Recognition (LPR) technologies, operators can dramatically increase the coverage area of enforcement personnel, both reducing costs and increasing revenue. Coupled with citation management systems — which can match scanned license plates to a database of plate numbers with paid parking sessions and automatically generate citations — operators can see as much as a 20X improvement in their enforcement operation productivity.

Yeesh. So not only are you paying to rent a slab of concrete for several dollars an hour, but now the parking companies are going to start scanning your license plate so they can catch you if you let the timer run out. Great.

Honestly, I never really saw a problem with remembering a stall number. Heck, most stall numbers are just two digits, or two digits and a letter. Shouldn’t that technically be easier to remember than a six-character license plate (especially if you’re driving a borrowed car)? This sounds to me like just a cash grab for parking companies; and they’d ever turn such a thing down.

Oh, well. At least we can take consolation that if this new Pay by License Plate system is anything like existing Impark terminals, they’ll all be broken or unusable within a week.

What do you think? Would you use a terminal requiring you to type in your license plate? Is it too invasive? Sound off in the comments section!