Mobile phones will soon be used to locate empty parking spaces making the hunt for a slot less stressful.
Parking meter supplier Schlumberger has teamed with Webraska, a supplier of online navigation and map information over wireless networks, to create a wireless parking system.
The system will let owners of Wap-enabled mobile phones or in-car navigation systems locate nearby empty parking spaces. The companies claimed that several UK local authorities had expressed an interest in deploying the parking system, which he said would help them "improve their image with the motorist".
"You will be able to enter a street name into your Wap mobile phone and shortly after that [it] will advise you on how likely you are to get a parking place in the vicinity," said Axel Hausen, New Markets manager at Schlumberger.
Hausen expects the phone owner to partly pay for the service by dialling a premium rate number or paying a fixed fee in advance. Schlumberger declined to say how much the system would cost a local authority to implement, but claims that many existing parking meters and pay-and-display machines could be "retro-fitted" with technology to indicate how many drivers had bought parking time.
Hausen also predicted that the appearance of a new generation of so-called cyber-cars, like the recently unveiled Citroen Xsara Windows CE vehicle which comes with built-in wireless connectivity, would hasten the uptake of his company's system. "Having information relayed to you on a car dashboard, or even spoken to you by the car, means that you don't have to use your mobile and drive at the same time," he said.
The pair expect the first systems to be up and running in several towns by the third quarter of this year, but declined to be more specific on the exact locations.
Hausen said the companies had researched how prone drivers were to "underpaying" - that is, leaving their cars on a meter after the time had run out. Statistically, Parisians were among the worst offenders in Europe, while drivers in Amsterdam were the most honest.
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