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Pittsburgh's new parking meters waste citizens' time and money while invading privacy. Human error and data collection are not accounted for.
There is no allowance for incorrectly entered license plates. When one enters an incorrect plate number, there is no mechanism for the meter reader to allow for these obvious errors. Additionally, the only resolution process is to go before a traffic court judge. My last ticket was placed underneath a receipt showing payment. Had the parking authority created a means to receive a fax with the ticket and receipt, such problems would have a simple resolution.
The collection of license plate numbers is an invasion of privacy. The new system run by Cale America USA stores all license plate data on a Europe-based server. In an interview this fall on the local NPR radio station, the head of the parking authority indicated that the license numbers are not stored. The vendor says otherwise. It is unclear if the workings of the metering system are understood by the authority.
In my opinion, where one parks and for how long is not the business of the local government (or any government) so long as one pays the parking fees. In a search of articles, public statements by the parking authority and the specifications provided by Cale America, I could find no disclosure of how data is stored nor the handling of honest mistakes in entering license plate numbers.
The new Pittsburgh parking system may provide convenience and cost reduction to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, but it does not serve the citizenry well.
First Published February 8, 2013 12:00 am