Here’s a nifty idea, via the San Francisco Chronicle: smart parking lots that let you know when there’s a space available.
Some train stations in the Bay Area’s rapid transit system are perpetually short of parking. But at others, some parking spaces are open all day long. So one underutilized station has installed a system that continuously monitors the number of parking spaces that are available, and advertises that information on a sign on a nearby highway. If you’re stuck in traffic and see that there’s a free parking spot at the park-and-ride, you can hop off the highway and take the train instead—easing congestion and saving fuel all at once. Nifty.
My point isn’t that this system should spread north—I just don’t know whether they’d be worth the cost here in the Pacific Northwest. For me, the lesson is simpler: the falling cost and rising power of information technology lets us create entirely new kinds of solutions to everyday problems.