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Smart Parking Spaces In San Francisco

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the operating-system-for-the-city dept.

Transportation 202

2centplain sends along a report in the NYTimes on San Francisco's smart parking initiative. He asks, "Any guesses on the when this will be hacked? Like, 'reserving' an empty spot by convincing a sensor that a car is actually parked there, or, perhaps using the wireless mesh network for some other purpose?" Quoting: "This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spaces in the nation's most ambitious trial of a wireless sensor network that will announce which of the spaces are free at any moment. Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones. They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car."

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202 comments

first parking space (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171633)

first parking space

Possible prank (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171653)

I assume these sensors detect meatal. So:

1) Bums
2) Foil hats
3) ...
4) Chaos, cofusin and many many LOLZ!

Maps to open spaces? (1)

Syrente (990349) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171707)

I see this ending very, very badly.

Who else imagines a Parking Lot edition of Wacky Races? "Race to the space, Mutley!"

Re:Maps to open spaces? (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173153)

I submitted this as a story/journal entry a couple of days ago and I fail to see much potential for anything good to come from this. But, well, it is San Francisco. Let's hurry and get to the spot we know is empty! Let's read a digital device while driving in downtown S.F.! It is more a WTF? than anything from my line of sight.

Re:Maps to open spaces? (1)

Jaknet (944488) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173765)

There are a lot of towns in the UK that use this for parking. It's normal to see the signs for the carparks with a display built in at the bottom and the number of spaces available or if it's closed. Hell we are getting the same on some of the bus stops telling you what the next bus is and when it's due, and I live out in the countryside so it's not a case of major town/cities either. So I cannot really see the problem here. It saves the hassle of wasting time driving round and round loads of carparks only to find them all full.

Welcome to parking 2.0 (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173799)

It's normal to see the signs for the carparks with a display built in at the bottom and the number of spaces available or if it's closed.

They probably do somethng stupid like count how many cars have gone in and how many have gone out. But this is different! It uses wireless and intarwebs and all that. This is parking 2.0!

Leicester's already got it. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174053)

At least one UK city is already putting this information on the web, on a Google Map too! Not just parking 2.0, but roadworks, traffic, bus stops and CCTV 2.0 too!

http://leicestertravel.info/ [leicestertravel.info]

"Traffic and roadworks" shows planned roadworks, and presumably accidents (none, currently)

"Car Parks" shows how many spaces there are in each car park (and their location, of course)

"Bus stops" (zoom in to maximum) shows bus stops, and bus departure times (presumably based on the GPS tracking from the buses, since that's what's on the real bus stop displays in the city). It also gives the number to text when you're away from a PC.

"Jam Cams" shows pictures from traffic cameras (i.e. CCTV aimed at busy junctions).

So long, thanks for all the gas. (3, Interesting)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171713)

Seems like a huge investment in a technology that probably only has five to ten years of life left in it...

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (2, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171733)

You mean the internal combustion engine? I doubt it. Europe has been paying even more than the US right now for gas, and they all still drive. If gas goes up too much more, it will become cost effective to make the gas out of other sources. Still plenty of coal left, even neglecting all of the "bio-xxx".

Even then, people would not give up their cars. I live in NYC and don't need a car, but in the 'burbs I sure would have bought an electric and put up with the crappy range rather than give up a car altogether.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (5, Informative)

cloakable (885764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171803)

On the other hand, over here in Europe out cars get good MPG, so even though we pay more for petrol, we don't pay that much. There's very few 8-15 MPG petrol guzzlers over here. :)

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171917)

The US market is beginning to more closely resemble the European market :)

I just meant that "parking" and "cars" are not going anywhere anytime soon. And I suspect that the internal combustion engine still has some legs as well.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (2, Interesting)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171991)

>The US market is beginning to more closely resemble the European market :) Really? I live in the States but I grew up in Europe (lived there 20 something years) and still spend 5 weeks there every year. Most cars do at least 40MPG with many going above that. My father's car goes over 50MPG on the highways... how's the US resembling Europe exactly? Unless by "beginning" you meant the real "beginning" of the car industry... like 1900 ;-) What's more interesting is that european car companies and oil companies divisions are more concerned about environment and smart us of resources than their American counterpart. I know this guy, the director of movie/documentary "Fields of Fuel" (coming out in August in theaters nationwide) who could get a same-day appointment with the CEO of Ford in Europe with just a phone call, but in the US after 77 phone calls he could not go through (regardless of having been promised he would get an interview). The CEO of Exxon (Esso) Europe also claimed that Environment and alternative fuels was their main priority and showed him what they were doing to reduce dependence; the US based officials... you guessed it, no interview. This film got awesome public critique at its premiere at the Jackson Hole Film Festival.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

hjrnunes (1135957) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173487)

Well I don't know about you, but for me, 1.50EUR a liter is pretty expensive no matter what MPG your car gets... I have a 1.4 liter, 4 cil. gas-powered vehicle and I get it to do 7L per 100Km. That's more than 10 cents the kilometer... Not that cheap...

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171893)

Europe has been paying even more than the US right now for gas, and they all still drive.

In many parts of Europe, cars are used for long-distance trips to remote places, often with the kids and a tonne of luggage in tow. The use of a car for the daily commute is very uncommon compared to the United States. High prices did spur better investment in public transportation in Europe, while in America low gas prices created a culture where everyone young and old thinks he needs his own car.

A couple of weeks ago, a middle-class Slashdot poster wrote something along the lines of "Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people." I couldn't imagine someone here in Helsinki saying that. Everyone rides the metro, buses or trams.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172133)

"Public transportation is cheap, but I prefer to drive so I don't have to be around poor people."

That right there is the number 1 reason people drive rather than take public transit. (There are rationalizations related to scheduling, but that's what it really comes down to.) And that also leaves out another subtext, which is that the "poor people" they are usually thinking of are not white.

By driving, a lot of Americans can practice a bit of out-of-sight, out-of-mind with the people in their society that aren't doing as well as they are. When you travel or live among poor people, your brain has to admit that poor people exist and are mostly decent folks who just want to make a living for themselves and their families. By comparison, if you live in a wealthy white suburb and commute by car, the only poor people you see are those who are working for you (making your lunch, carrying your mail, cleaning your office, etc).

Re: being near poor people (5, Insightful)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172391)

I strongly disagree. Public transportation in the US sucks because it doesn't go where you want to go, when you want to go. It works well for a very limited subset of the population that lives in high-density metro areas; it's useless for any task that leaves these areas.

Now before you complain that I'm an apologist, lemme cite some facts. I took a flight from Washington National airport not too long ago. My plan was to take the bus to the Metro train, which would drop me at the airport. Decent plan, right? After a mile walk to the nearest bus stop, I stood there for 45+ minutes waiting for the bus, which didn't show up. At that point, I had burned my "extra" time budget and was in danger of missing my flight. I jogged home, got in my car, and drove to the airport. I passed the bus some 60 minutes after it was scheduled to make a stop. Why didn't I drive to the Metro and continue from there? Because it was a weekend, and the trains run on a 12-minute schedule. With the bus-delay, I was in danger of missing the plane if I missed the Metro by the perfect amount.

Similarly, I *can* take public transportation to work, but I did the calculations, and the one-way time varies from 3 to 4 hours. That's for a 26-mile commute distance. Public transportation is coordinated at the local level here, so it's a horrible PiTA to switch across five different transport methods to get somewhere - bus, train, bus, different bus, etc. Schedules between municipalities are completely uncoordinated, so it takes maximum time to go anywhere. If you don't value your time, it's a wonderful way to burn through it.

What's that? I should move closer to work? Unfortunately, my office is located in an industrial business park. There isn't a residential area within 5 miles. Further, even if I could make that work, I'd be a huge distance from everything else. The US isn't laid-out for a public transportation infrastructure. It's been pasted on as an afterthought, and it sucks. We'd need to make some horrific changes to install a useful transport network, and I don't expect that to happen in my lifetime.

Re: being near poor people (1)

KevinIsOwn (618900) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172897)

You're right that public transportation in the US sucks because "it doesn't go where you want to go, when you want to go." You're wrong when you say that the "US isn't laid-out for a public transportation infrastructure."

While it is true that even with a really good system there would be many rural areas in the US that aren't covered, that's not really all that bad. A good transportation system would allow people in rural areas to take their cars to the closest public transit point and let a bus/train/plane/whatever else take over from there. Suburbs, for instance, are perfectly good locations for train stations and bus routes, but they rarely exist, or if they do, they are horribly inadequate.

Take Oswego, NY as an example. It has 1 main road through town and 17,000 citizens along with a university located off of that main road. But in Oswego, the bus from the uni to a supermarket, for example, takes a good 30 minutes, whereas by car it takes 5. The hilarious part about Oswego's transit system, the "Centro", is that it won an award for excellence from the American Public Transportation Association in 2006 [wikipedia.org] . Meanwhile, the bus in Oswego comes at seemingly random times and doesn't get to its destination in a logical manner. Compare that to even the crappiest European bus systems, and any award at all is laughable.

The sad thing is that Oswego's transit system is hardly the exception. Nearby Rochester's bus system is even worse. Traveling into the city by bus will take at least 2-3 times as long from a suburb (say, from RIT) as it would by car. (Not to mention most of Henrietta, NY lacks the sidewalks necessary to safely walk to a bus stop anyway)

I could sit here all day listing problems with our transit system, but the reason I know we can improve public transportation around the country is that there are areas where public transportation really works. (Trains between CT and NY for example. Sure, Metro-North is dirty and old, but they generally run close to on time). It's going to take time to solve the problem of public transportation, as there are many chicken and egg issues that will only be worked out with time (transit authorities will only add new routes if they have more customers, but they won't get more customers unless they add new routes, etc). But as gas goes up, more people will switch to public transit. And this small amount will allow it to expand, which will mean more people will use public transit, and it will expand more, and so on.

Re: being near poor people (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173885)

I bought a house many years ago. One of the legal obligations was that I had to sign-off having viewed the "Master Plan" for the county. It's a 20-year plan for development in the area, and shows where the gub'ment is planning to issue permits for different applications. They flash it under your nose so you can't bitch when "eminent domain" seizes your house for a hyperspace-bypass.

Nowhere on the Master Plan was any form of public transportation infrastructure. They should have light-rail running between major population areas, but they don't. Busses are a joke - there's no such thing as an "express" that'll take you between major areas for local distribution. Residential and commercial growth is managed based on projected tax revenue.

DC's Metro Rail system is wonderful if you're traveling radially into or out of DC. It's virtually useless if you want to go from, say, Potomac to Wheaton, or from Vienna to Braddock. Sorry, the trains don't go there.

In Maryland, they're building a new hunk of highway called the Inter-County Connector. [iccproject.com] The ICC has been held-up in court [wikipedia.org] by the tree-huggers for 30+ years. Yes, 30+ years. They're finally building it now ... at the cost of $4.5B for about 30 miles. It doesn't go anywhere useful (though they are building a new town at the eastern end, benefitting the land owners.) So it appears we're more than willing to sink billions into bloated highway projects, but not a dime into new public transport elements.

Public transportation infrastructure in the US is an afterthought. Always has been. I'd applaud someone proposing a monorail system, simply because he's got a plan, and that's a huge step up on the state.

Re: being near poor people (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172999)

i think you also forget to factor in the fact that "transportation" decisions were taken at times when public transport was seen as a filthy communist ideology as opposed to the intrinsic individualist freedom loving automobile.
There are people in the US who routinely drive 50 miles plus each way to their office...
you made the decision for a variety of reasons(nice safe suburbs, better schools, etc.) stop bleating when your chickens come home to roost.
Get out of your cars, or accept that they are part of a luxury lifestyle and earn more money to pay for it.

Re: being near poor people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24173785)

If you rode a bike, you could get to work in an hour and 15 minutes without much trouble.

Re: biking near DC (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174061)

The suburbs of DC are not bicycle-friendly. Most roads are full of "road rage" drivers who view bikes as an obstruction. I have two friends who were forced off the road by ... assholes. One ended up in the hospital. Your statement needs some conditions:

>If you rode a bike, you could get to work in an hour and 15 minutes without much trouble,
if:
- car drivers were respectful and didn't go out of their way to try to kill you;
- highway restrictions didn't prohibit bikes (MD 32 prohibits walking too);
- I could maintain an *average* speed of 20MPH (I can't manage an average speed of 30MPH in my truck);

I used to have a 9.2 mile commute, and I rode my bike to work often. I didn't dare go near the busy roads, though. That was asking to die. Typical one-way times were about 45 minutes. I'd expect my current commute to take over 2.5 hours under ideal conditions (i.e. no assholes on the road.) I don't know about you, but I don't have an additional 2-3 hours to piss down a hole each day.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (2, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172419)

Poor people exist, but the sane poor people drive a poor car as well.

I don't avoid public transportation because of poor people, but mostly because of dangerous, violent lunatics, who threaten people just because they're bored. Also because of stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around.

I am one person, and I absolutely love to have some dignity. I can not cure all evil in the world and I am oblivious to undereducation and whatever reason there may be that kids and youth these days just behave like wild animals.

That's why I ride by car. Doors locked and concealed-carrying, to be exact.

Compared to being in a cage with several dozen jerks, idiots and other obnoxious humans, even traffic jams are an oasis of pure harmony in the middle of the storm.

Get the public space safe and clean and I will consider riding the public transportation again.

Signed,
A white male sick of paying taxes for people that hate me.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172835)

Compared to being in a cage with several dozen jerks, idiots and other obnoxious humans,

In Europe, which was what the comparison was about, you hardly see these people on buses or trains. Almost everyone is "normal". No one would look down on a successfull businessman taking the subway to work either, it's normal to use it (where it exists).

I live in London, if you take a train at peak times you probably won't see many people not wearing suits. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbV7CESh6pI [youtube.com] (I know it's busy. We're working on it ;-). The road is busy too, and slower.)

Times will change in the US, and as more and more normal people take public transport you'll see less and less idiots on there.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (0, Flamebait)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174073)

Disclaimer: I live in Europe. Oh dude, I tell you, we have lunatics here, you'd never believe it.

Our police is a joke, our security weak and The Youth(tm) have noticed.

You can use public transportation here, but if you do it after 8pm, you better not look anyone in the eye, not look weak and muggable, not have any valuables on person, not take trains or buses that run through certain neighborhoods - and above all, not be a white woman with blonde hair. If you can fulfill these simple requirements, you're free to go ride the bus or metro after dark in large cities of Europe.

Oh, and NEVER visibly show that you're Jewish, support Jews or support Israel. That can get you killed - again - and I'm not kidding. And no, this time it's not the Nazis but our friendly, peaceful immigrants from the Middle East...

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (3, Informative)

phulegart (997083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172969)

I had to re-read this paragraph...

"I don't avoid public transportation because of poor people, but mostly because of dangerous, violent lunatics, who threaten people just because they're bored. Also because of stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around." ...to realize that you were talking about public transportation. I don't know how, but I missed the first part. Everything after the word because fits nicely with driving as well. You know... road ragers... the lunatics who threaten people just because they are bored (or in a hurry, or mad at their spouse, etc.). Also because of the stupid kids that have nothing better to do than scream and wave their mobile phones around while they drive.

But the assumption that public transportation is the same everywhere as that one bus ride you took that was full of escapees from the Asylum... that's just stupid man. The public transportation system in Portland Oregon is pretty fantastic. Now, in Vegas, the buses are notoriously late (quite common to see one bus on a route passing another bus on that same route, where they should be separated by minutes if not an hour). In Boston, the only way to get across the city is by using the T. Driving can take you 4 hours or more, while jumping on the Orange line in Malden, changing trains in Downtown crossing, and hopping the Red line to Braintree will take you half an hour total. In fact, if you want to visit Boston and you don't live near it, the best way is to park at the end of one of the T lines, and ride in.

My experience with public transportation in Washington DC, Tallahassee Fl, Las Vegas, Boston MA, Providence RI, Portland Or, Milwaukee Wi, New Orleans La, and Dallas Tx has always been good. I've never been on a bus or train with screaming violent lunatics (of any age). This includes my cross-country bus trips as well as my cross-country train trips. And I've done several of both. So I've got more proof that public transportation is safe and pleasant, than you have proof that it is not. And I don't even feel like I have to carry a gun to secure my trip. But, with car jacking and the like, I guess it's not surprising that you feel the need to drive alone and armed.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172919)

What kind of claptrap is this?

The number one reason people choose personal autos over public transport is
that they would like to arrive at their destinations in twenty minutes rather
than three hours.

As it exists now, public transport is very, very slow -- and this assumes
that the bus or train or trolley even ventures anywhere near where you
want to go.

To achieve a level of service and efficiency on par with the personal
automobile, untold trillions would have to be invested in a public transportation
infrastructure. The entire landscape and philosophy of America would
need to be radically transformed. It will not happen anytime soon.

But rubbing elbows with poor people is nowhere in the equation.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

jnork (1307843) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173563)

I don't use public transit because it costs the same as driving and triples my commute time. And that's going from one town with a train station to another (35 miles away) with a train station, both within walking distance of my destinations. Because they don't connect, I have to take a bus into Sacramento, which takes an hour. Or drive there and leave my car.

Actually this isn't true. It was a few months ago until I lost my job, now I don't commute. But even taking the train to visit my GF requires a longish drive at her end.

Visiting my parents in San Clemente requires an 8-hour drive or an all-day train trip. If all four of us go, it's cheaper to rent a car and drive than to take the train, and faster by several hours.

If the public transit went where I needed it, didn't cost more than driving, and didn't take forever to get there, I'd almost certainly do it. I can't speak for everybody, but for me this has nothing to do with rubbing shoulders with the downtrodden.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172441)

You get a full cross section of people on public transport in the UK too - more so on trains than buses. Some of the richest people in the country ride the tube in London as it's the only sane way of getting around.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

celle (906675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173127)

Obviously, you haven't been in America where going anywhere even in many cities is a long trip in varying extremes of weather. And I'm not talking a town over the next hill when you leave the city either. You definitely can't walk anywhere if you intend on having any kind of life, survival included. The only people who do, live next to their job or work at home and that doesn't count dependencies like school, store, medical which are often never nearby. I also won't get into the crime rate of all those targets if they were walking out in the open.(drive by, gang, racial issues, etc)

This country is huge with unstable geographic and regional climate areas and ruled by a government of the self-interested.

You also point out another problem, arrogance, fear, and other emotional problems with so many different people together in one place. America is definitely a continuing education in multiculturalism, so much so that it has developed its own.

The reality is that in many places you need to own a car just to survive. The bank is 20 miles, store 20 miles, hospital 20 miles, in a large town and the closest gas is 14 miles in a small town. There's no public transport out here, either. The nearest small city with a better and larger variety of products and services is 50 miles away.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (2, Informative)

amper (33785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173887)

High prices did spur better investment in public transportation in Europe, while in America low gas prices created a culture where everyone young and old thinks he needs his own car.

Actually, the low cost of personal transportation vehicles created an American suburban landscape where everyone does need his own car. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy which has been covered in more depth than I could ever hope to mine here. The active destruction of many of America's public transportation resources by General Motors was a major contributing factor which is also well-reported.

If you haven't read it yet, pick up a copy of James Howard Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere. Kunstler provides a very insightful account of the systematic failure of American foresight since at least the early 20th Century that has propagated at an ever increasing rate an unsustainable way of life from which there is no easy retreat.

Re:public transport is cheap. (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174141)

Last time I used a bus, it cost me £1.50 to travel 2 miles (a recent 5 mile taxi ride cost £10) . That makes the break-even point of buying an old heap of a car, taxing and insuring it and putting fuel in at £1 a litre what? About 5 miles a day?
I am not counting the cost of parking, but then I am not considering the agony of dragging all the crap that most people need to take to work and back on and off public transport. Or carrying said crap on a pushbike.

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172031)

He did NOT mean the IC engine. RTFA! (Oh, wait ...).

No, it's revenue enhancement (1)

slashdotard (835129) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171919)

Be suspicious. Be very suspicious.

It's a honey trap. A devious revenue enhancement scheme. That's a "good excuse" to invest in such a pricey technology.

Notice that there's always a sign posted that shows a specific time limit for parking? The time limits are being enforced more and more often.

A ticket will bring in more money to the city than a meter. Of course, they'll gladly keep any additional money you put in the meter after the time limit, too.

Besides, do you have any idea as to how much money SF makes off just the meters? It's a LOT!

Re:No, it's revenue enhancement (1)

rich3rd (559032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172869)

The meter ticketing cops will have it easy when the system provides them with a map of all the active, occupied meters sorted by which one will run out next. The possibility of feeding a meter remotely by cell phone does not mean everyone will take advantage of this, and the revenuers count on a good percentage of them failing to, just as the purveyors of mail-in rebates count on most people forgetting to fill out the forms, filling them incorrectly, losing the paper, sending it late, etc. The last time we bought a machine at the Apple store the specialist filled out all that crap for us and submitted it electronically, so we "wouldn't have to think about it," but I don't expect to see a meter cop running around reminding people to feed their meter any time soon. Of course, you look to the ones who stand to gain the most. I am the walrus.

Which technology is that? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172399)

This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spaces in the nation's most ambitious trial of a wireless sensor network that will announce which of the spaces are free at any moment.

Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones. They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car.

- Wireless sensors?
- Street signs?
- Portable two-way communication devices?
- maps?

Re:So long, thanks for all the gas. (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173713)

This technology is already implemented in Germany. When you drive through a city, you will see parking signs with the the number of spaces left in a given parking lot. I don't drive here (in Germany), so I don't even know how useful it actually is.

Technical SWAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171719)

Weaknesses.

So easy to trace and record signals/protocols - they did it with rent a bike in Germany.

Suppose I cover the meter with an alfoil bag, or neutralize the antenna? OK head server says oh my heartbeat lost error.

A Cell-phone or custom meter ammer will cause chaos when trying to pay.

Physically swap parking meters, or re-program them

They get stolen - because each one has an XP licence.

They Get BSOD because they cannot call home.

Just a couple - any more?

Parking? (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171735)

Having spent many hours driving around SF. I didn't think there were ANY parking spaces, smart or otherwise.

Re:Parking? (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172743)

As a current resident of SF, I can assure you that there are, in fact, many parking spaces! They're just not anywhere you'd really want to go...

There's no such thing (0, Offtopic)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171755)

as "parking" in San Francisco.

We do, however, have some of the most aggressive bums in the world.

Re:There's no such thing (0, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173869)

We do, however, have some of the most aggressive bums in the world.

Are you using the word "bums" in the British or American sense?

Ahh... "smart", not "Smart" (4, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171761)

And here I was thinking that parking lots were starting to mark out half-size spaces for Swatch Smart cars.

Re:Ahh... "smart", not "Smart" (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173179)

That is what I figured. To the people that say they could put tin foil over the sensor and make it think there is a car there: There has been similar technology used in traffic lights for years. A bicycle will not trip the sensor, but a motorcycle or car will. It is a big metal detector, and can be adjusted for sensitivity.

Great ... make everybody speed to the same spot (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171765)

This scheme will lead to road rage on an unprecedented scale. Every time a spot becomes free there'll be a dozen people making a mad dash for it.

Re:Great ... make everybody speed to the same spot (3, Interesting)

Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171891)

Pfft, we have this system here in Sydney shopping centres. If all the spots are taken, people simply cruise around looking for people leaving, same as always. Fantastic when it is only 80% full or so however.

Let me fix that for you... (5, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172505)

1. Add reservation option. Mark the spot as yours before you get there.
Drive calmly to the spot, as central server knows how far you are from the spot and it won't start charging you for the time it takes you to get there driving at the allowed speed.
2. Add red LEDs to the parking spot markers. Have them light up when the space is reserved. Have them turned off by sending a code from your mobile.
3. Add option to report people taking your reserved spot. Have tow-trucks ready and waiting.
Also have option to charge them for "stealing" your reserved parking spot, since you have already paid for it.
4. Profit!

Re:Let me fix that for you... (1)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173849)

1. Add reservation option. Mark the spot as yours before you get there.

Step #1: Locate blocks of available, desirable parking and mark them as "reserved"
Step #2: Put a sign in your window advertising your "premium parking locating service"
Step #3: Collect the parking fee, plus a "service fee" from drivers wishing to park
Step #4: Profit!

Re:Let me fix that for you... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174009)

The second line might make some problems with that plan.

Drive calmly to the spot, as central server knows how far you are from the spot and it won't start charging you for the time it takes you to get there driving at the allowed speed.

What you COULD do is intercept that same data everyone gets and spam the system with squatting reservations.
If your office(s) are strategically positioned so that you are about a minute or two from every parking slot it might work.
Any extra charge for the sucker... I mean customer not getting there in time you dump on him/her.

Only problem is... The city would probably see no reason to let YOU scam the people when THEY can do that same thing.
With the bonus that the city can have some "premium" permanently red lighted parking spots for no extra cost while you would have to be on your toes constantly.

So it might be kinda illegal in the eyes of the city officials.

Re:Let me fix that for you... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174037)

Hey...
Just because I am using the familiar 1-2-3-Profit! system it does not mean I am being funny. I was serious.

And what do you mean, funny?
Let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?
I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me?
Tell me, tell me what's funny!

Re:Let me fix that for you... (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174179)

Since I'm pretty sure, there aren't enough available spaces for everyone. I'd say that not charging while you park, will only increase the fight over the reservations, even though people is not sure is going, but "just in case".

Your scheme seems interesting, but I'd think, you'd have to be either charged for the reservation, started to be charged as soon as you reserve or penalized if you don't use your reserved parking.

Pulas (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171777)

Paying by phone has been a standard procedure in Budapest, Hungary for the last 4 years. Just send an SMS and there you go, another hour or so, depending on your SMS. Each parking district has its separate phone number, so there's no need for fancy high tech equipment, just a few billboards.

GNAA Penis Rocket To The Moon Project - Mkultra777 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171781)

2niggers1anus sends along a report in the GayNiggerTimes on San Francisco's smart penis initiative. He asks, "Yo man, Yo! Yooooo! When that motherfucker gonna be stroked? You know what I'm sayin? Like, 'jackin' for a whole fuckin day by convincin a hand that an anus is actually placed there, or, perhaps using the watermellon poked with hole for some other purpose?" Quoting:
"This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 gay nigger penises in the nation's most ambitious trial of a gay nigger masturbation network that will announce which of the gay nigger penises are free at any moment. Masturbators will be alerted to empty gay nigger hands either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones. They may even be able to pay for masturbating by cellphone, and add to the gay nigger meter from their phones without returning to their wife."

GNAA Penis Rocket To The Moon Project:
http://www.gnaa.us/penis-rocket-to-the-moon-project/ [www.gnaa.us]

Gay Nigger Bake Sale #9: (free Goatse bumper sticker with your purchase of a gay nigger pie)
http://gayniggerbakesale.gnaa.us/ [gayniggerb...le.gnaa.us]

Only few technical details (3, Interesting)

mattMad (1271832) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171791)

I would like to know more about the kinds of technology they are using. There are tons of interesting issues like the communication technology, security, energy supply, ...
Unfortunately, the article does not provide many details so I looked for the web page of the company: http://streetlinenetworks.com/ [streetlinenetworks.com] - However, there isn't much more information to be found there either...
Anyway, it will be exciting to see a real-world wireless sensor network operating on such a large scale!

car parks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171799)

Why don't they just do what other places do and build car parks in congested areas, with streetsigns saying 'car park x - 200 spaces free', 'car park y - 150 spaces free' etc.?

Re:car parks? (2, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172951)

SF does have underground car parks built as part of large office blocks. But the problem is where there is a mix of residential and business parking. They parking spaces may be free for residents between 6.00pm and 8.00am, but used for business during week days. It isn't practical to demolish a block of residential housing just to build a new car park.

Japan (5, Interesting)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171811)

Japan has something similar to this, albeit with parking lots rather than metered curb spaces, which don't exist to my knowledge. When you enter a dense commercial district, overhead LED signs show a map of the neighbourhood with parking areas colour-coded according to whether there are vacancies or not.

Re:Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24173027)

If you're talking about a system on the carpark (parking lot) scale, lots of cities across the world do this - they count cars in and out of each carpark, and compare that to the total number of spaces available. The system discussed in the article is slightly different, in that it works on the individual space scale, which is an extra step up in convenience beyond what you're talking about.

what a quote.... (2, Insightful)

Raleel (30913) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171853)

âoeIf the San Francisco experiment works, no one will have to murder anyone over a parking space,â said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose work on the pricing of parking spaces and whether more spaces are good for cities has led to a revolution in ideas about relieving congestion." - from TOA

Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

That having been said, I've seen the start of something like this in an airport (Portland, IIRC). Parking spots have a light over then that shows green when they are empty and red when they aren't. Very handy to look down an entire row and know it's all full. In this one, you might be able to check for parking in the area when you get close and get over there, all on your phone. An interesting side effect of this is that the parking authority would be able to determine rates of fill and determine if they need to build a parking garage in the area.

I'm sure it can be hacked. I'm also sure there are meter maids who can probably have an automated system to check that stuff, like one that says it's full when they go by and it's clearly not. A quick push of a button and it gets communicated back to parking central authority to fix it. Bear in mind, most folks are not hacking folks, so it's really going to be a small subset that ever need this treatment.

Re:what a quote.... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24171881)

"if the San Francisco experiment works, no one will have to murder anyone over a parking space," said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose work on the pricing of parking spaces and whether more spaces are good for cities has led to a revolution in ideas about relieving congestion." - from TOA

Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

Maybe they had Hans Reiser as a consultant?

Re:what a quote.... (2, Informative)

mikeraz (12065) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172065)

Yes, Portland has that technology. There are also signs at the ends of rows indicating how many free spots there are. A sign at the entrance shows how many free spots there are on each floor of the garage.

It really makes short term parking at the airport nicer. You are effectively directed to a spot.

Also...

When crossing the bridges into downtown there are signs showing the number of open spots in each of the city run garages. Slightly helpful in choosing among garages in the general area you are going.

Re:BWI Airport too (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172447)

BWI Airport has the LED system in the short-term garage. Overhead Green/Red indicators let you know if a spot is available, and there's another indicator at the end of the row showing if the row is full or has at least one empty. That was surprisingly useful, and eliminated a bunch of frustration (especially if you're pressed for time.)

The parking garage is a controlled environment. I'm not sure it'd have the same benefit in an open space.

Re:what a quote.... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173403)

Wow... because you know, we all _have_ to murder people for a parking space now.

Give the poor guy a break, he is from LA, after all.

Smart Parking Space + Smart Car = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24171965)

sentient life form?

Doesn't Solve the Problem (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172009)

While it sounds cool and all, I don't understand how this is going to solve anything. If people are circling the blocks searching for parking, it's because there are no spots, not because they can't find them. This system doesn't create more parking spaces, it just fuels a feeding frenzy. Right now, if a spot opens up, the only people that know about it are the drivers on that particular street. With this new system, the spot will announce itself to dozens of vehicles in all the surrounding blocks, and there will be a mad dash to get to that spot. It will create traffic congestion. What they need is to tear down a few optimally placed buildings, and put in some multi-storey parking garages.

Mod Parent Up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172397)

That's very well put. This is a case of technology solving the wrong problem, possibly at the cost of introducing new ones (aggressive behavior, cheating, jamming, system malfunction, etc.) At best it might eliminate very minor inefficiencies associated with some spaces being vacant for 10-15 minutes at a time. The real problem is that there may be 4x as many vehicles as available spaces, so getting rid of those temporary vacancies is a drop in the bucket.

Re:Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24173841)

No, the solution is to stop driving so many fucking cars.

Re:Doesn't Solve the Problem (1)

netik (141046) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173915)

You're right. This has absolutely nothing to do with helping people find parking spaces.

It has to do with maximizing revenue from each parking space, removing the "Free" parking time you get if someone pulls out of a space with time on the meter, and accurately tracking people that don't pay so that the DPT can direct enforcement to areas where more people park longer and don't pay.

I interviewed at streetline networks a couple of years ago. I refused the job because I wouldn't help them do this to people. Parking in SF is already impossible and our parking fines are extremely high here.

I probably lose between $300 and $1000 a year to parking, fines, meters, and everything else.

Re:Doesn't Solve the Problem (1)

qromodyn (741144) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174167)

1. San Francisco prohibits new parking lots, and the city voted for anti-parking (A) and againt pro-parking propositions (H) on last year's ballot . So don't count on more parking lots.

2. The "bridge & tunnel" crowd may check their cell phones before they drive to the City, and see that there is no parking, so might just give up on the trip altogether. I certainly have been guilty of driving up from the Peninsula and not been able to find a parking place in the Mission after driving around for 20 minutes and just giving up (and going elsewhere).

3. The key piece of this technology is that is designed for parking ticket enforcement, to generate additional revenue for the city. The city will be able to see globally where all the expired meters are and will be able to more efficiently give out tickets for expired meters.

Isn't it illegal to use a cellhone while driving? (4, Interesting)

phorest (877315) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172011)

Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones.

So let me get mind around this, California bans cellphones [sfgate.com] while behind the wheel but will possibly tie this to cellphones or even a confusing screen on your dashboard?
When will the madness end?

Re:Isn't it illegal to use a cellhone while drivin (4, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172321)

The tickets they dole out will pay for the new parking system. It's a win-win situation!

Re:Isn't it illegal to use a cellhone while drivin (1)

LargeMythicalReptile (531143) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173383)

So let me get mind around this, California bans cellphones [sfgate.com] while behind the wheel but will possibly tie this to cellphones or even a confusing screen on your dashboard?

Hands-free cell phones are allowed. I believe the idea is to make sure you have both hands on the wheel--which makes the law of questionable value for a variety of reasons (is a hands-free unit really less distracting? Why is it still legal to have one hand on the wheel and one hand holding a Big Mac while you talk on your hands-free phone?). But still, locating empty parking spaces via cell phones isn't a priori a violation of the law. (Besides, the ideal case is having a passenger look for spots on their cell phone while you're driving....)

Re:Isn't it illegal to use a cellhone while drivin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24173809)

Also, CA only banned talking on cellphones without a hands-free headset, not using them. You can still text message, email, surf the web, etc. without getting a ticket.

Bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172235)

The ability to remotely extend the lease means that all parking lots will be occupied 24/7 by those who can afford it. I predict vigilante towing.

PDX Parking Garage (1, Informative)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172277)

The Portland International Airport's short term parking garage has overhead signs that tell you, at each turn, how many empty spaces there are on that row. Then above each spot is a red or green light. You can see the status of every space immediately when you turn on to the row. Very handy.

As far as hacking the sensors goes, we (society) have been using metal detectors to trip traffic lights for years, and an electric eye could check for size. It would require a large metal object to mark the space occupied. Then, the meter would require payment for the space. If it isn't paid for the meter maid shows up to discover a non-vehicle that isn't being paid for and removes it. The next vehicle to show up gets flagged in a database. If the same vehicle gets flagged repeatedly for showing up after a 'hacked' meter you send in the investigators.

San Francisco parking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172325)

The parking situation in San Francisco is amazngly difficult and expensive. People pay more for parking spaces than others do for rent, in other parts of the country. I know at least one person who quit a San Francisco job and moved out of there because he could not afford to park his car.

don't make the problem worse for bikes (3, Insightful)

burris (122191) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172481)

The worst thing they could do is replace the many standard parking meters with just a few kiosks or with square posted meters that are incompatible with bike locks. Then we would have no place to lock up our bikes. It's hard to get the city to come out and install bike parking (plus there are never enough racks) and the privately installed racks are usually useless (they buy racks designed by people who don't ride bikes and/or install them too close to a wall.)

Re:don't make the problem worse for bikes (1)

fretlessjazz (975926) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174201)

Eh... when you start paying an annual registration and license fee for the use of your bicycle, you can then demand municipal bike racks. However, you'd probably have to pay to use them.

Most of that already exists... in Winnipeg (2, Informative)

ubercam (1025540) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172661)

Paying with a cell phone? Hell, we can pay by text here... in Winnipeg [wikipedia.org] of all places.

Many US, Canadian and UK cities are served by Verrus [verrus.com] for paying parking in certain parking lots (even on street in some places, but not here) with a cell phone by dialling a number and having an account with them, easily setup online. Here in Winnipeg they also offer pay by text. The only other place they offer that is in the UK. I pay by phone Mon-Fri for parking downtown, and it's super convenient. Saves hauling around $5 in change and having to stop at the ticket machine on the way into the lot.

Within the last couple years, the City of Winnipeg [winnipeg.ca] instituted a set of brand new parking machines, eliminating most if not all old on-pole parking meters. You can pay by credit card, coins, and as of at least May, by phone [www.cbc.ca] . You can even pay your fine online [imiservices.com] .

What we DON'T have is the wireless signs that show number of spots free. In San Francisco, with a metro population of 7 some million, compared to Winnipeg's paltry 694,000, and a population density more than 4.5 times higher than Winnipeg, finding a space is likely a lot harder. We usually just need to drive around the block to find some, never mind the fact that the number of surface parking lots here is very high.

missing the point... (5, Insightful)

acroyear (5882) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172667)

add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car.

this is REALLY missing the point of "max 2 hours" limits on meters. they were never meant to be a replacement for all-day parking in a garage. they were meant to be a way to keep commuters and all-day tourists from hogging up a spot all day, keeping locals and casual shoppers (and those visiting municipal facilities or medical offices) from having convenient access.

by allowing someone to just casually "push a button" from where they are and hold the spot another two hours, they effectively have created a new commuter spot and while its nice that the city gets the money, it makes things worse for the locals who actually need access for only an hour or two.

Wy not variable parking rates? (1)

wwwrat (124607) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173401)

With the topping up approach to parking meters, I suppose the financial risk of forgetting and getting a ticket is what enforces the notion of the parking limits.

With these electronic parking meters (the ones that accept credit cards), you still have to guess how long you need the meter. If you have my credit card (or some form of ID, photo of car w/ license plate, ...), then let me pay at the end (just like most toll garages). To motivate short-term parking, have the rate increase ($1 first hour, $2 second, $4 third hour, ...).

Head for the long-term/daily parking if you expect to need it.

You end up paying more if you park short-term but unexpectedly stay longer, but it would be a reasonable amount rather than a huge parking ticket.

Re:missing the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24174081)

In the article, they say they are targeting to keep 85% of spots free. They can do this by increasing the fee based on demand. A variable fee parking spot that requires personal attention every 2 hours is not an ideal commuter spot.

May even be able to pay via the phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24172689)

Wow.

We've had that in Norway for years, and I assume a lot of other countries has it too.

I'm just baffled that this oppertunity is written after "may even". It's a lot simpler to implement than vacant/busy sensors. All you need at the physical site is a sticker with a phonenumber/code on it.

a quote from my cal professor (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 5 years ago | (#24172797)

"What helps you do integral calculus and find parking spots?"

"Clean living, Dr. Meek."

I just hope it doesn't atrophe my ability to integrate now that I won't need to use clean living to find parking spots. (in sanfran anyways)

Does it need to be hacked? (2, Insightful)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173177)

Any guesses on the when this will be hacked?

Why do you have to ask this yourself? Can't you live together, respecting eachother and use this cool new tech to live better? As a hacker myself I can understand that the first thing you would like to do is take it apart and understand exactly how it works to make it work in ways it's not supposed to, but "reserving an empty spot by convincing a sensor that a car is actually parked there" instead of respectfully reserve it the legal, correct and respectful way is just wrong.
In an ideal place, where people respect eachother that would not be necessary. Maybe SF is not an "ideal place", I don't know, never been there, but you could try to make it become one by not hacking cool stuff like this, and use it the proper way instead.

Re:Does it need to be hacked? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173863)

Any guesses on the when this will be hacked?

Why do you have to ask this yourself?

Because it's going to be hacked! :P

Re:Does it need to be hacked? (1)

2centplain (838236) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173933)

Because scarcity tends to bring out the worst in human behavior. I've seen BMW-driving residents of the affluent Marina section of San Francisco come to fists over a precious parking spot. Nerds, who generally tend to avoid physical confrontation, are more likely to hack things to get their share.

Pay for what you use (1)

Pitr (33016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173309)

With parking fee collection becoming more computerized, it makes less and less sense to have a flat rate for an arbitrary amount of time, especially as prices go up. If it were still 25 cents per 15 mins, that wouldn't matter as much, but not only is the price at least $2/hour (downtown where I live), but it's one hour minimum. What if you only want to stop for 5 mins to grab something from a small store? (And you know you'll get a ticket in those 5 mins)

Now $2 isn't a whole lot of money, but implementing a system that allows you to "refill" a meter wirelessly makes less sense to me than swiping your credit card, or whatever payment option is available, and having it wait you until you leave, then bill you for the time you used. I love neat new techno gadgetry as much as everyone else (this is slashdot) but sometimes you gotta keep it simple.

Germany has most of this now (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173561)

I was just there. I don't think you can pay by cell phone--it's a normal token for ticket system, but each garage has a billboard announcing how many spaces are left. This is also true of the interior spaces. You dare not venture into one that claims no spaces are left (Umm, we got stuck inside when we did that), but it's very helpful to know when it says '116' left that you are likely to get a space. You get either a ticket or a token at the beginning which you exchange for a 'get out of jail' ticket (or token) at the end by paying with cash, cedit, or debit. Much better than sticking dollar bills through a little hole, plus you actually get a printed receipt.

How to "hack" these (1)

cory_p82 (751921) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173637)

If the sensors ("bumps") are anything like past technology (say, for traffic lights), they are simple induction loops. Car parks on sensor, magnetic field is disrupted, sensor sends signal to base station. So, to reserve a spot for your friend coming over? Put a magnet on the sensor. Sensor registers a car parked there. Problem solved!

It *will* be used and abused. (1)

amper (33785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24173911)

Don't worry, it won't be long before such a system is used to deny more of our freedoms, all in the name of Safety, Security, and Crime-Fighting. Not to mention concentrating more wealth in the hands of corporate masters rather than providing gainful employment for a large number of people.

You're Stupid (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174025)

You're stupid if you are going to let a city start tacking things onto your cell phone bill. Haven't there been enough stories already about the problems you get yourself into once you okay outside charges onto your cell phone? This is not a credit card you're using here folks with the protections mandated for them.

And with all the other, bigger, problems facing The City by the Bay, why aren't they tackling them first?

Pointless feature (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#24174177)

"They may even be able to pay for parking by cellphone, and add to the parking meter from their phones without returning to the car."
 
Why wouldnt they just charge by the minute, leave your car there for days if you want. If you can pay by cellphone i'm sure they could use a billing system like phones. Not to mention doing nothing is more convenient than phoning the parking lot.

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