SFPark: The SkyNet of Parking Meters

If you’ve paid any attention at all when driving around San Francisco, you must have seen these new meters going up everywhere – at least downtown:

A San Francisco SFPark meter

What you may not have noticed is in the street:

The city of San Francisco has been quite open about what these new meters are supposed to do – at least in stage 1: to allow dynamic pricing in order to free up parking

What you may not know is about all of the other capabilities these new meters and their robotic servants confer.

1) In the old days (and old meters), the difference between an expired meter and a valid meter was fairly difficult to see:

valid – not expired – ‘old style’ meter

expired ‘old style’ meter

expired ‘old style’ meter from parking maid distance

You can see from above it isn’t that easy to tell expired from not-expired.

With SFPark, the difference is much more visible due to bright red or green LEDs which blink:

SFPark expired blinking lights (red, but not captured by video)

SFPark valid parking blinking lights (green, but not captured by video)

The video camera I’m using can’t seem to tell green from red, but the 1st and 3rd lights are red (expired) while the 2nd and 4th light are green (not-expired)

2) The magnetometer in the ground (the spot on the street above), the SFPark meter now knows when you’ve left, as well as when you’re still there.

This means that the SFPark meter can track such things as the 1 or 2 hour time limit for most meters – which today is almost never enforced.

This also means that the SFPark meter could (don’t know if they do) zero out unused time when the person who paid for parking leaves

3) The SFPark meters also accept both credit cards and SF Park cards. This is convenient, but what is not talked about is that the SFPark meters actually contain a wireless communication device. I don’t know exactly what, but it is almost certainly a text message type cellular device powered by the solar panels on the other side of the meter:

The communication device is necessary for credit card charges, at a minimum.

However, given that the SFPark meter can both talk and knows when you’re there/not there – is there any barrier to the meter actually calling a meter maid to itself in order to issue a ticket?

Again, I don’t know if this is possible. The only reason it would not be is because the solar panels can’t keep the communication device charged enough for this, but this seems unlikely since the same problem would apply to credit card charges.

Note that this ‘we know you’re parked’ paradigm can also be useful – the open spots revealed by the SFPark meters can technically be displayed for potential parkers.

We at ParkingTicketStopper.com are talking with the manufacturer of these meters in order to access this information – it would be a new (and easily added) capability for the TKTSTPR app.

Of course, that won’t help when SFMTANET turns intelligent and starts producing terminators…

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About ticketstopper

As a veteran street parking warrior of numerous cities around the US (and the world), I'm now in the business of helping others avoid parking tickets.
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