ParkIndy announces app to find parking spaces
In November, ParkIndy will bring way-finding technology to parking near Monument Circle. Sensors will be installed in about 50 parking stalls to help motorists find a space. In the coming months, other areas in Indianapolis will benefit from this way-finding technology as ParkIndy continues to make Indianapolis the most advanced parking system in the United States.

ParkIndy will close metered parking spaces in the area bound by Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, and Ohio, to install sensors on October 24, 2011. A free smart phone app called Parker™ will be enabled in November, giving Indy’s residents and visitors’ real-time insight for finding open parking spaces.

The sensors in each parking space detect the presence of a car. That information is communicated to motorists via a free smart phone application. Visitors to the Monument Circle area who download the free app will have access to a live, instant map pinpointing available parking. Icons will note when more than four spaces are available (plenty of parking available), more than two spaces are available (some parking), or less than two spaces are available (limited parking). The app also delivers information about parking space time limits, pricing, and whether meters take credit cards or coins.

“We want to take the P-A-I-N out of the word parking,” Adam Isen, program manager for ParkIndy said. “Finding your space should not be a hassle.”

Experts estimate that 30 percent of urban traffic is caused by motorists looking for parking, exacerbating congestion and pollution. Way-finding technology can reduce greenhouse gasses as well as toxic emissions like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and ozone.

ParkIndy is partnering with Streetline, Inc. to provide the sensors and the Parker application. Streetline is a privately held company headquartered in Foster City, California. The company provides services in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Culver City and Sausalito.

Frequently asked questions about way-finding applications

Why Streetline?

There are very few technologies currently that provide way-finding solutions. Streetline, however, has a robust consumer application in Parker with new and invaluable services, including links to pay for one’s parking using Parkmobile and to locate one’s vehicle after a day of shopping and dining.

What are the primary benefits of implementing the sensor technology?

Using sensor technology will benefit residents, visitors, and communities. As thirty percent of urban traffic is caused by motorists looking for parking, sensor technology will enable motorists to find a space quickly and easily while reducing congestion and vehicle emissions.

Are there challenges with sensor technology?

Every city is different. Some have underground rails that may disrupt electrical signals. Others may have deep cellular canyons that prevent the transmission of data. The system can be calibrated, however, to deal with issues such as these. The technology will be thoroughly tested in Indianapolis before the Parker app goes live.

Do smart phone apps like this advocate texting and driving?

The Parker service acts like a map app, similar to in vehicle navigation systems, and doesn’t involve texting. The app can be used at the start of one’s trip and by passengers. ParkIndy strongly urges motorists to avoid any activity that might create distractions that compromise safety.

Do the sensors operate in cold temperatures and in snow?

Streetline’s embedded sensors and other networking technology have been designed and tested to operate in extreme weather conditions. The embedded sensors are installed flush to the road surface so snow removal can be accomplished without damage to the sensors. Snow areas where Streetline is installed include Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority stations, Roosevelt Island in New York City and the City of Boston.

Can this technology be used for enforcement?

That is not the intent of this initial deployment. Rather, our goal is to provide residents and visitors alike with an improved parking experience and optimize utilization of parking spaces.