Impressive technology presented to Hamilton City

It might soon be impossible to avoid that parking ticket in Hamilton city with a hi-tech wireless parking system that monitors all vehicle movements set for a trial.
The device would oversee parking enforcement and dispatch electronic infringement notices.

Hamilton City Council's transport committee members were impressed enough by a presentation from Cambridge-based firm MeterEye of its "abuser-pays model" for parking enforcement yesterday that they have asked staff to investigate proposals for setting up a three-month trial of the technology, including costs and timelines.

The MeterEye system offers "electronic chalking" on cars which overstay in parking spaces through its in-ground dinner plate-sized sensors, wireless "mesh" networking and a web-based reporting system.

At the top end, there is even scope for automatic number plate recognition cameras with which the system can "date stamp" when vehicles arrive and leave the central business district.

If there's more than a whiff of Big Brother about that, the attraction of a system which promises to increase parking revenue, improve parking efficiency and reduce enforcement costs had great appeal to most committee members.

"It will provide a better environment for genuine shoppers," said Councillor Gordon Chesterman.

He envisaged it leading to parking wardens patrolling on scooters and backed a "proof of concept" trial on a city street.

Councillor Roger Hennebry was less convinced, worrying that "people wouldn't come to town exactly because of a system like that".

"We don't want this to be the final nail in the coffin," he said, in wondering aloud how much the prospect of being more easily stung by a parking ticket would really encourage people back into the central business district.

But MeterEye manager Andrew Perrier said it would bring people into the city because it would be much easier to find a park while it would also be simpler to top up meters, given this could also be done remotely.

MeterEye technology has recently been installed in Taupo and Mr Perrier said a trial there found 30-40 tickets a day should have been written for the 24 bays that were tested.

"By contrast they were only doing that many tickets for 1000-odd parking spaces," he said in highlighting the lost revenue to the council.

The MeterEye system's reporting and analysis offers reports on parking space occupancy, length of stays and enforcement efficiency at the punch of a button. Mr Perrier said sensors also ensured meters were reset to zero when a car left a space "so there is no piggy-backing on unused time".
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"Hamilton is going to really love you," Mr Hennebry said.

"You seem to have eliminated human people from a revenue-gathering exercise," said Councillor Joe Di Maio. "How well will it be accepted by people?"

Mr Perrier said the system could be configured as the council wished to allow for any period of grace.

But he noted in walking down Ward St, meters had expired on seven of 21 parks.

Mr Perrier said his system would not only allow for comprehensive reporting and analysis of central business district parking, but would also offer better value to ratepayers.

It would lead to improved turnover for retailers and would improve morale among parking wardens.

How it works

1. In-ground sensor units detect the presence or absence of a vehicle in a parking space.

2. When time expires the sensor signals a handheld transceiver carried by parking wardens to alert them to the infringement.

3. The sensor also alerts a server which signals when a space becomes vacant to overhead road signs.

4. Centralised computer records all parking space movement and data for analysis, including "heat maps" of daily turnover.

5. Cameras capture the number plate of any vehicle entering, leaving or parked within the system.

6. System controllers can search by number plate detail to display the activity of a particular vehicle over a period of time within the parking district.
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