This is the time of year when a lot of us try and avoid Christmas shopping. It’s not because we’re lacking in the “holiday spirit” so much as the malls and department stores are so crowded that it can put a bit of a damper on the mood. And don’t even get us started on the traffic. As if it’s not challenging enough to even get to the parking lots of our favorite stores, it seems like it takes a good hour just to find a spot (and not even a good spot).
If you can relate to this feeling and deep down you’ve reconciled that knowing ahead of time where you can park is a Christmas pipedream more than a wish that Santa will actually grant, there’s good news (well, there’s good news for those who are in the San Francisco Bay Area). Thanks to a partnership between the companies Streetline and Cisco, individuals with smartphones will be able to do just that: look down at their phone and see what parking spaces are available at the destination where they are headed.
So, how does it all work? Well, if you are living in the San Francisco Bay Area and you have a few moments in between your errands, stop by San Carlos or San Mateo. If you look down on the ground in many of the parking lots in those areas, you should see little blue circles in the asphalt. They are wireless sensors. The sensor itself uses a combination of a light sensor and a magnetometer in order to detect if the space where the sensor is placed is actually occupied by a car (or not). All of the sensors are created in such a way that they are able to connect with all of the other same sensors in the area thanks to a Cisco Wi-Fi mesh network.
The way that drivers will be able to pick up on the empty spaces that are available is thanks to a mobile app that is appropriately known as Parker. With Parker’s assistance, users of the app will be able to find out the city blocks and parking garages that have spaces that they can access in real time. Parker can also help people with another “parking space irritant”: finding the car once you’ve parked it. Another bonus for Parker (as it expands to other cities) is that if users are allowed to pay online, they will also be able to pay for their parking or even feeding their meter with the app.
Aside from the obvious convenience of having Parker to help you park your Honda, SUV or Vauxhall Adam, there are also some “green bonuses” that come with the invention as well. Being that Parker will provide helpful parking assistance, this means that we’ll burn less fuel looking for a space and that ultimately means there being less emissions going into the atmosphere.
So, if you’re in San Francisco, “Merry Christmas” and be sure to look into downloading the app. If you’re not, try and be patient. Reportedly, city planners around the United States are working hard to make them available to everyone. See, Christmas wishes, even for adults, still come true.