Oct 29, 2020 - Technology

Video could be new gold standard for urban traffic management

Illustration of a parking lot being recorded.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Here's a thought that occurred to a few people while weaving their cars through double-parked Amazon trucks and Ubers: Let's find a way to monetize those scofflaws.

Why it matters: Video cameras mounted on city streets — and connected to the right software and technology — could one day be a gold standard for urban traffic management.

  • The nascent technology — now being marketed by a handful of new companies — could be used to bill vehicles that park in commercial spaces, fine vehicles that double-park, and help cities place commercial parking spaces in the best locations.

Where it stands: Several vendors have popped up in the emerging field of digital curb management.

  • Coord says it "supports over 4.9 million curb spaces in 15 cities across North America."
  • Automotus says its installations have helped reduce traffic caused by parking by 20%.
  • curbFlow says it "identifies vacancy at the curb in real time for drivers needing to pick up & drop off deliveries."
  • Other companies, like Flow Labs and Flux Mobility, are at earlier stages of development.

What they're saying: Jordan Justus, co-founder and CEO of Automotus, walked me through the company's plans.

  • For cities that hire Automotus: "We've developed a system to automatically invoice companies for their time at the curb — whether it's DoorDash or PostMates, Amazon or UPS — so that not only are these folks paying [cities based on their time in a commercial parking spot], but they're paying based on their use."
  • For Uber, Lyft drivers (and others): An app will help find parking for motorists, free-of-charge.
  • For urban revenue coffers: Automotus automates enforcement of double-parking. "Enforcement mechanisms today rely on officers driving or biking around to get back to the same spot every two hours, when you have a vehicle stopping for anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes."

Details: Automotus has done projects in cities like Bellingham, Washington, and campuses like Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

  • But Coord "now supports over 4.9 million curb spaces in 15 cities across North America," including, most recently, Omaha.
  • Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver are also using Coord's platform.
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