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Parking sensors to tell Boston drivers' smartphones where to find a spot

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  December 10, 2013 11:17 AM

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Starting Wednesday, drivers looking to park around parts of Boston’s Innovation District will be able to use a smartphone app to find the location of the closest available parking spot.

The city of Boston announced it has completed a project to install 330 “Smart Parking Sensors” below curbside spots along Seaport Boulevard, Congress and Summer streets and Boston Wharf Road.

The technology will be available to use starting Wednesday, Transportation Department officials said.

A free mobile app “Parker” developed by the company the sells the sensors – California-based Streetline, Inc. – works in tandem with the sensors to show drivers which parking spaces are not in use, city officials said.

The app is available for iPhone and Android phone users.

The city said it will also unveil newly-installed “Time to Destination Signs” in the Innovation District on Wednesday.

The signs use real-time traffic data from area roads to help motorists find the quickest route out of the district and onto the local highway system, officials said.

The city said it bought the signs from Pennsylvania-based manufacturer All Traffic Solutions, which partners with GPS-maker TomTom to develop the technology.

The signs are located in the following locations: Sleeper Street, just before Seaport Boulevard driving from Northern Avenue; East Service Road, just before Seaport Boulevard driving from Congress Street; and Seaport Boulevard, inbound at Congress Street, officials said.

Boston officials said the new technology will reduce traffic congestion and will make the sometimes-frustrating search for parking easier.

“The Innovation District is the fastest growing area in Boston and it is well-served by public transportation, as well as safe and attractive walking routes, and conveniently located bike lanes,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “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.”

In April, Menino announced the city’s budget called for allocating $250,000 for a pilot program to pair real-time parking sensor technology and smartphone apps to make finding parking easier.

Officials said the data from the newly-installed sensors can also be accessed and used to create custom maps at parkermap.streetline.com. For details on how to access the application programming interface behind the technology, email developers@boston.gov.

City officials ask that feedback about both initiatives be emailed to btd@boston.gov.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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