Smart technology in the city’s future

When the Trade and Transit II garage is built next summer, an advanced technology “pilot program for parking meters” should be in place, according to officials at the Williamsport Parking Authority.

The authority met Wednesday and watched a slideshow presentation on the various technologies available to municipalities and heard about the pilot program targeted for the 300-space deck.

Advanced technologies can be used on the surface lots, streets and in parking garages and it can help those enforcing rules to be more efficient. The authority took no action.

One sticking point, as an authority member observed, is whether the investment, or initial outlay cost to buy the equipment, will be more than the revenue generated by the new technology.

Smart technology is designed to simplify, but also help to manage the revenue streams handled by the parking authority employees. The technologies available and considered as options can operated on credit/debit cards, cellphones and monthly permits, according to the presentation.

Enforcement officers also can receive more updated hand-held equipment to give them better information about who is violating parking law. With that in their hands, they can instantly access information that would prevent them from having to walk around as they do and search for potential violations.

Technologies exist that can alert patrons when the parking facilities are full and direct them to the closest available lot or parking garage, and, hopefully, if it works, the technology will increase customer satisfaction.

As authority member Kenneth DiRocco pointed out, “who wants to walk around with a bunch of quarters in their pocket?”

In early April, the Third Street parking garage near Pine Street will be fully automated similar to the Church Street garage at 11 Church St. The Third Street facility will enable patrons to self-pay to park 24-hours-per-day rather than depend on staff to be present.

Plans are to keep a few staff on hand to get people used to the change and provide additional news releases and signs with information about the technology at the garage entrance and exits.

The authority held a 50-minute closed-door session and afterward said the topic was about negotiations on monthly leases.

“The board is going into an executive session,” said Dr. Anthony Cipolla, chairman of the authority.

Following the session, it was learned the negotiations were how to manage monthly leases in the parking garages, but the executive session precluded the Sun-Gazette from gaining any other details about the negotiations that were attended by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.