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Smart parking meter prevents tickets

PhotoViolationMeter will call to warn you that your meter is running low and then let you buy more time over the phone.

Ever been stuck in a can't-leave meeting knowing that the minutes on your parking meter are about to ding you? The PhotoViolationMeter will call to warn you that your meter is running low and let you buy more time over the phone.

The device, created by Photo Violation Technologies of Canada, also gives customers a variety of payment options, including credit and debit cards for the coin-challenged (the meter's wireless network capability allows for instant, real-time authorization of the cards--and free Internet hotspots for anyone who wants to do some on-street surfing).

Photo Violation Technologies

The first wave of machines are already installed and ready for public use--San Francisco ran a test of the meters from October 2006 through March 2007. And this week, the company announced that the next-generation PhotoViolationMeterPBS is about to make its debut in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The PBS version has the same features as its predecessor, but can handle more than 100 parking spaces.

Another cool feature of the smart meters: the Grace Period option. "The city gives you a grace period by preprogramming a certain amount of time that you can pay for extra minutes before it turns into a parking violation," explains Fred Mitschele, president and CEO of Photo Violation Technologies. "No other meter can do that."

But the device also makes it harder for drivers to talk their way out of tickets. A digital camera photographs license plates of violating cars, creating evidence that'll be tough to dispute. Sensors in the device also reset each time a new vehicle pulls into a space, allowing cities to increase parking revenue.