Parking Meters
Smart meters in Uptown Athens [Anna Azallion | WOUB]

Athens City Council Considers New Technology for Smart Parking Meters

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The new smart parking meters that popped up around Uptown Athens last year might be here to stay. Athens City Council is considering a measure to keep the meters around for at least another five years.

One thing many don’t like about the meters is that they can’t use the Park Mobile app to pay. Many don’t know that there is an app for the new meters though, City Councilmember Peter Kotses said.

Peter Kotses
Athens City Councilmember, Peter Kotses during a City Council meeting. Kotses proposed an ordinance which would provide new technology for parking enforcement officers.

“It’s now Park Smarter; if you download the Park Smarter app, it is a much more robust app because it works specifically with the meters,” he said. “You can go on there and you’ll actually see a map of which meters are occupied and are not in real-time.”

Park Smarter works in a similar way to Park Mobile when it comes to paying to park. Users can add their vehicle and credit card to the app so they don’t have to enter the information every time. The biggest difference with Park Smarter is that users have to input a meter number rather than a zone number.

Ohio University senior Brooke Balzano said she was never a big fan of the Park Mobile app. She said the nicest thing about the parking meters installed last year, is that you can pay with a credit or debit card.

Smart Parking Meter
The smart parking meters sit on College St. and other parts of Uptown Athens. They were installed in Athens last year and allow people to pay with coins, credit or debit card or via the Park Smarter app.

The parking meters have a slot for coins or a place to insert a credit or debit card. Users can then choose how much time they want to buy.

The proposed City Council ordinance would change the company providing the technology Parking Enforcement Officers use. The company they have been working with since the early 2000s doesn’t provide hardware and software compatible with smart meters, Kotses said.

City Council is considering an ordinance to switch to a new company that would provide hardware and software for smart meters. This would reduce labor costs or allow for increased patrolling, Kotses said.

Parking Garage
The parking garage in Uptown Athens does not have the new smart parking meters. The garage has meters that allow people to pay with coins or via the Park Mobile app.

He also said the new component would communicate with the meters so the parking enforcement officers can collect information faster.

The meters in the parking garage aren’t as smart as the meters throughout the rest of Uptown Athens, meaning they can’t tell the parking enforcement officers if there’s a vehicle in a parking space. There’s also a slightly different protocol to patrol the parking garage since it still has the old meters, Kotses said.

Athens City Council will vote on the proposed ordinance at the next regular session meeting of City Council on Monday, March 16.