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Using an App to Parking Smart in SF

Mon May 9, 2011 - 3:56 PM EDT - By Annie Latham

Last month I wrote about San Francisco's SFpark pilot program where real-time information is being collected and distributed about where parking is available.

On Sunday, the program made the front page of The New York Times. The author, Matt Richtel, brought up some interesting points about the smartphone apps that display the gathered information about areas with available spaces.

>> If you are looking at a smartphone and not at the road, bad things can happen (especially in SF where you have lots of pedestrians and bike messengers and trucks). <<

City officials are urging drivers to pull over before they pull up the city's iPhone app. Anyone driving in SF knows that isn't very easy to do. They also suggest people check the app before they leave home. Again, not very practical since open spaces fill quickly.

If it makes it there, it'll make it anywhere...

In the article, Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies parking issues and is serving as an adviser on the San Francisco project, said cities and traffic experts were closely watching the federally funded experiments in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"If it works in San Francisco, the whole world will take notice," Professor Shoup said.

Perhaps what's needed is a backseat driver app that will shout out where the available parking spaces are based on the information received via the SFpark program. That could be a win-win!


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