Parking companies providing innovative solutions

Digital Payment Technologies, a Vancouver company specializing in parking lot pay systems, has announced that the City of Ventura, California, has installed 65 of their LUKE parking station payment terminals, which are completely solar-powered and wireless.

The LUKE terminals require no connection to the city’s power grid, and communicate with back-end management system using Wi-Fi. The pay stations accept coins and credit cards, and can be upgraded to support additional payment methods as required, including coupons provided by DPT.

“DPT’s LUKE pay stations are helping the city manage parking in our downtown to better meet the parking needs of residents, business employees, shoppers and visitors,” said Thomas Mericle, city transportation manager for the City of Ventura.

DPT isn’t the only parking company in the news for innovation this week; yesterday, IBM’s smartcamp global entrepreneur competition bestowed the title of “world’s smartest startup” on Streetline, which helps cities manage parking resources and directs consumers to parking spaces.

VentureBeat has some information about the San Francisco start-up honoured by IBM:

Ultra-low power sensors are installed in parking spots, which can detect if the space is occupied. Sensors can also be installed in the parking meter to verify whether the meter had been fed and therefore detect violations.

In addition to detecting parking violations, Streetline will release a smartphone application in early December to direct users to the closest parking pots. Once that is in place, a city could even start doing dynamic pricing of parking spots  in order to direct drivers to particular parking areas. CEO Zia Yusuf told me that there are three major ways to get their product to consumers rather than just cities: the smartphone application, digital signs which direct people to parking (“3 spots if you turn left”) and finally partnerships with car navigation systems.

Ideally, Yusuf would like to see cities introduce integrated parking systems which include monitoring like that supplied by Streetline, mobile payment for parking, alerts when parking time is running out and mobile ticketing. He suggests that a city could even send a ticket to your mobile phone with an offer that if you pay instantly, you get a discount on the fine. Streetline also has ambitions to extend its services into traffic monitoring and beyond.

Anyone who’s ever driven through Vancouver’s Yaletown — or anywhere west of Commercial Drive, for that matter — knows what a nightmare hunting for an empty parking spot can be. In the past, DPT has prided itself about using smartphones to provide customers with payment options and information on how much time is left on their current parking spots. If they could start providing info on parking spots that aren’t in use as well, it could make Vancouver, or any other major Canadian city, that much more pleasant to visit.