Friday, June 27, 2014

Free our (parking) data

One of the less appreciated news items this month was the approval of variable rate parking at city of Pittsburgh meters. That came to mind while reading this from DC: When parking prices reflect demand, everybody wins.

If you read that carefully, you see it talks about the über (that would be the generic, and lower case über) data-driven parking modalities of San Francisco.  For more on that check out:  and you will see what they have going on.

Here in Pittsburgh, lots of data is being generated by our new and ubiquitous electronic parking meters that were installed by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Did anyone even consider making available the data those meters are generating for uses such as what is happening in San Francisco? Think this is all to hard to implement? It is child's play compared to what is happening in Chicago where the light poles are going all Skynet.

And the thing about it is, I bet it wouldn't cost much money.  If there was just an open data stream I bet Pittsburgh's civic-minded tech community would make great use of the data, all for the better-ment of all.

But no.. I get it.  The contract that put in the parking meters probably never even considered such uses so I speculate there is an easy excuse to never see any data like this in the public realm, no matter what is happening elsewhere.  Although I do want to know what the status is of the phone-paying parking app the parking authority said was in the works.  In itself it is a data-point showing the data-potential the system is capable of. And until we do, it hurts that we are falling ever further behind the tech-metropolis of Latrobe, PA.

and if that works and we get open parking data in Pittsburgh, we can really push the limits and merge the local memes of robotics with parking. No, I am not talking driverless cars, but the very real robotic valets that could improve the efficiency of all parking facilities everywhere.


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