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Friday, Feb 3, 2023
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L.A. Tests Bluetooth-Enabled Parking Signs

To tackle public confusion around street parking restrictions, the City of Los Angeles announced Friday it will attach electronic beacons to 100 new parking signs as part of an experiment. The city envisions using the Bluetooth-equipped beacons to communicate parking restriction information to yet-to-be-developed apps for mobile phones and connected cars.

“People are already using apps to figure how to drive around the city of L.A. It’s natural to imagine extending that to parking,” said Peter Marx, the city’s chief technology officer.

As part of the six-month pilot program, the city’s transportation department will install beacon-equipped parking signs along Spring and Main streets between Second and Ninth streets in downtown Los Angeles. The beacons were donated by manufacturers Gimbal and BKON and the city is providing the parking restriction data; now the city needs third-party developers to create apps that will display parking restriction information.

“We’ve been reaching out to people who have been coding existing parking apps and existing transportation apps,” Marx said. “To my knowledge we are the first city in the world to try this.”

In addition to transmitting parking restriction information, the city envisions the beacons could one day be used to accept parking payments, alert users to nearby events or even advertise nearby businesses.

The Bluetooth beacons are just one part of a new city parking experiment. The beacon-equipped signs will also display parking restrictions in a new form, using bar graphs to show when parking is and isn’t allowed instead of the typical wording that many residents complain is confusing. Per state law, the new parking signs will be placed alongside existing signs, until they are approved as replacements by the California Traffic Control Devices Committee.

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