What does it mean when a parking spot is marked with a wheelchair symbol? If you answered, "It means I can park there as long as I'm going to be quick," you're wrong - yet you're also far from alone. Every day in parking lots all over the world, non-disabled drivers regularly use spaces clearly reserved for the handicapped. They often get away with it, too, unless an attendant happens to check while their vehicle is parked there. Thanks to technology recently developed by New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies (CPT), however, those attendants could soon be notified the instant that a handicapped spot is improperly occupied.
This is far from the first parking issue that CPT has addressed. Some of its past innovations have included SmartGuide, which uses digital signage to guide drivers through parking garages; SmartCounter, which keeps track of the number of vehicles entering and leaving parking garages, displaying a digital tally of the number of spots currently available; SmartPlate, which automatically reads and records vehicles' license plate numbers, to make sure the right cars are in the right spots; and SmartMeter, which allows drivers to remotely top up the amount of time that they've paid for.
Now, the company has developed a system in which disabled drivers' vehicles are equipped with an electronic tag. Sensors in handicapped parking spots would detect when a vehicle was pulling in, and then detect the tag - if the vehicle had one. If no tag was detected, the sensor would instantly notify parking enforcement personnel.
The system could reportedly be implemented for around the same cost as the current permit-based system, and could also be applied to other types of reserved parking. Although it has yet to be picked up by any clients, CPT claims that the technology is ready to go, and could be in use as of early next year.