Avoid parking tickets with text option

Parking Services is piloting a convenient parking alternative in Lot P2. The text messaging innovation was developed by Carleton Computer Science Prof. Dwight Deugo. (Christopher King Photo)

The trial period of Carleton University’s text message parking solution is off to a promising start and will likely be extended, thanks to more than a dozen regular users and positive feedback from the campus community.

“I am very encouraged to see the texting being used,” says Brian Billings, the operations manager in the Department of University Safety.

The system, which allows users to text to pay for parking, is the first of its kind in Canada.

Users register their vehicle and payment information online. Instead of walking to a parking meter or getting a permit and walking back to put it on their dashboard, users simply text how long they want to park in the lot.

“On rainy days or cold days, if I don’t have to get out of my car to pay for parking, why would I?” says Carleton Computer Science Prof. Dwight Deugo, who developed the software.

A warning is sent when their parking is about to expire, with the option of extending their time through another text.

“Think about how useful it is,” says Deugo. “You’ll never have to leave an important meeting or miss part of a class again.”

The trial period, which launched in early July and took place in Lot 2, brings in between $15 and $30 each day in parking fees. Billings says this number is likely to jump in the fall, when traffic on campus increases.

“Summer is a good time to get a project like this rolling,” he says, “but we’re optimistic that the text parking will continue throughout the academic year and that we’ll get a great response then as well.”

In the meantime, a few kinks are still being worked out. Currently, when parking enforcement officers want to find out if a car has paid for parking through text messaging, they have to call a dispatcher on campus to look it up.

“The ultimate goal is to put the control in the hands of the officer and have them be able to run a wireless query on the spot,” says Billings.

Later this month, the program will be evaluated and a decision about its future at the university will be made. Billings says either the trial in Lot 2 will be extended or the program will be expanded to other lots around campus.

“I’d certainly like to see both the program and usage grow,” he says.

The text parking joins parking meters, pay and display machines and permits to give those who park on campus as many options as possible.

“It’s all about choice and this is just another choice you can make,” says Deugo.

http://www2.carleton.ca/parking/

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Tayleigh Armstrong

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