Crews in city of Sarasota installing sensors in parking areas this week for new app

After about three to four months of testing, the app will go live, letting drivers use smart phones to check on availability of parking spaces, city manager says

A worker installs a sensor on Links Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

Through the end of this week, people may see a three-man crew working in public parking spaces throughout the City of Sarasota, City Manager Tom Barwin noted in his Feb. 17 newsletter. “They’re installing electronic sensors that will provide information on parking availability,” Barwin wrote.

“Through the use of a cell phone app, drivers will be able to make smart parking decisions based on availability and lessen their time seeking a space,” he added.

City staff was approached by a private “smart parking” company, Streetline, which proposed installing the infrastructure for the system and operating it “at no cost to the City,” Barwin emphasized. “Following due diligence by the Parking Operations Division, we decided to embark on this tech savvy program that will empower drivers and strengthen parking management,” he added.

One to two sensors (slightly larger than a hockey puck) will be installed per block into the blacktop, he explained. Combined with other reporting technology, the sensors will enable accurate aggregation of parking data, he noted. Then through use of sophisticated algorithms, the sensors will report “with high accuracy information about the availability of parking spaces,” Barwin continued.

Once the program is up and running, that information will be available via a mobile app, he pointed out.

While the sensors will be installed by the end of this week, it will take the company three to four months to confirm the equipment is working properly, Barwin wrote. Afterward, the firm will activate the system for public use, he noted. “We’ll keep you posted when the app can be downloaded and used in Sarasota,” he added.

Barwin also extended his thanks to Parking General Manager Mark Lyons for pursing the cutting-edge approach to parking management.