Westminster City Council is testing an interesting new bit of technology which will tell drivers where to find a parking space, and allow them to pay for it over their mobile phone.
Sensors dotted around parts of Westminster Borough are able to tell if a car parking space is free. That information can be sent to phones, iPads and tablets, allowing motorists to drive to the free space directly. It is hoped that the technology will eventually be fitted into Satnav systems to avoid dangerous driving which results from accessing portable communication devices while behind the wheel. The system, the first of its type in Europe, is being trialled over the next three months. If it is successful, the technology could be extended to the West End and to the whole of the Borough over the next couple of years.
Rather excitingly, the system could even include contactless payment. Allowing drivers who have logged onto the system to be sent a free parking space, auto pay for it over their mobile and avoid tickets.
The data gleaned from parking habits will allow Westminster to access information on parking times and habits. The system might also alleviate congestion. Research suggests that almost a third of traffic in city centres is generated by drivers looking for a space. It takes the average driver a quarter of an hour to find a space.
A similar car park-finding technology is being trialled in San Francisco. The American system currently sends an SMS when the meter is running down.