Westminster City is to begin testing sensors which tell drivers where they can find free parking spaces; the first time this technology will have been used in Europe. The technology consists of sensors being placed in the road which are capable of telling if a car is parked there. This information is then transmitted to iPads, smartphones and tablet devices so that motorists will know where there is an available parking place.
This information should eventually be able to be transmitted to satnav systems, making it even easier for the motorist. This trial is being run for three months in a few streets, including Savile Row. If the trial is successful the West End will be the first area to use it and by the end of 2014 the rest of the City of Westminster is expected to be using the technology.
Eventually cars which are registered on this system could use contactless payment by having another sensor fitted to the bottom of their vehicle. Parking patterns will be monitored by the council through any gathered information perhaps bringing about a variation in charges according to the demand at different times.
International research tells us that motorists looking for a parking space generate 30% of urban traffic. In cities the average time it takes to find a free space is 15 minutes. Technology similar to this is being used in San Francisco on a trial basis, also notifying the motorist by text when the metre is about to run out.