Simplified: The city's public parking team is focusing less on capacity and more on convenience as more people flock to downtown. That means new technology is on the way to make paying for parking easier.

Why it matters

  • Traffic to downtown is increasing. And while many streets have meters that accept credit cards and app payments, in several areas the meters still require coins.
  • That's changing with new smart meters coming to town that'll have 5G speeds and options to make payments faster and easier, said Matt Nelson, parking manager with the city.
  • The parking department is also getting a new vehicle that can track license plates, but both the new meters and the vehicle have been delayed amid supply chain shortages.
"Normally we’d get those (parking meters) turned around in a week," Nelson said. "Now we’re literally running months behind."

Tell me more about the new tech

The new 5G meters will allow for contactless payment.

  • They'll also connect to the existing ParkSmarter app

The new license plate recognition vehicle isn't the first of its kind in the city, but it is the first that fully integrates with the existing parking technology, Nelson said.

  • The car has cameras on the top that will scan every license plate they pass and checks it against a database of paid customers.
"If you're paid, it doesn't do anything," Nelson said. "If you're not paid, it would ding."
  • Then the parking attendant driving the vehicle would double-check the plate and, if needed, write a ticket.

All of the new tech is funded through the city's parking fund, which gets revenue

What happens next?

The city's about six months away from seeing smart meters across all of downtown, Nelson said.

The vehicle was also delayed by supply chain shortages, but it's expected to be installed in the next two to three months.

  • City Council is expected to get an update on the new vehicle and tech upgrades in the next month as well, Nelson said.