What the Tech?: You Can Now Find Parking In the Innovation District Using An App

The technology sends a ping from a parking spot to people aimlessly searching for a place to put their car.

Image via Streetline

Image via Streetline

Nobody enjoys sluggishly searching for an open parking spot in the busiest parts of Boston, as drivers stuck behind them lay on the horn in frustration.

City officials hate it, too. Mostly because it causes traffic congestion and brings things to a standstill.

To eliminate the annoyance of drivers cruising city streets looking for a place to park their vehicles, Boston’s Department of Transportation rolled out a new app that is triggered by a ping sent from spots where parking is available, so motorists can keep a steady pace as they prey on available spaces.

A total of 330 “Smart Parking Sensors” were officially turned on Wednesday in the Innovation District, to help alleviate the traffic flow of vehicles traveling in and out of the burgeoning waterfront area. “The installation of this new equipment will now ensure a quicker and more pleasant trip to this neighborhood for those commuters and visitors who choose to drive,” Mayor Tom Menino said in a statement.

The sensors, which send a signal to a smartphone app called “Parker,” that can be downloaded by drivers, were installed along stretches of Seaport Boulevard, Congress Street, Summer Street, and Boston Wharf Road as part of a partnership with California-based Streetline, Inc.

The parking-sensor project is being led by the Transportation Department, with support from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, as part of the mayor’s ongoing “Complete Streets Strategy,” a plan to create a multi-modal transportation network citywide.

Streetline, Inc.’s “Parker” app lets drivers find a space with real-time parking availability and information including locations, rates, hours, and more, and uses voice guidance that will announce when parking is nearby. Users can also set a timer to remind them when the meter is about to expire, in case they get caught up in a business meeting, or dining occasion in the Innovation District.

The technology is innovative, but drivers shouldn’t expect to see them popping up in other parts of Boston anytime soon.

While city councilors have expressed interest in implementing technology-based parking meters and apps in the past, for now, this new technology is strictly staying put in the Innovation District.

“At this time, there are no definite plans to expand the use of these technologies, but we are exploring the possibilities,” said Tracey Ganiatsos, a spokesperson from the transportation department.

Here’s a tutorial that explains the Parker smartphone app that works in conjunction with the meters: