Parking a car and then paying for the space at a parking meter during the winter months in Dover, N.H., can be uncomfortable given the cold temperatures and snowfall there. So beginning in November, Dover — a coastal city of nearly 30,000 people — will debut new technology allowing drivers to pay for parking with wireless gadgets located in their vehicles.
The EasyPark device works much like a portable parking meter. It sits on the vehicle’s dashboard or is clipped to the driver-side mirror. Users choose how much money they want allocated to the device, and when it’s time to park in a public lot or on a street where payment is required, they activate the device and choose how much time they wish to park.
“We wanted to provide another level of convenience to the driver, especially up here in the Northeast where you have snow, slippery sidewalks and things like that,” said Bill Simon, parking manager at the Dover Police Department. “This allows them to set the machine up, go right to their destination and come back and not have to go to the meter.”
Come Nov. 13, the devices will be an alternative — not a replacement — to the existing parking meters located in Dover.
Drivers will be able to purchase the devices either from the Dover Police Department or through a website soon to be developed by EasyPark’s maker, On Track Innovations (OTI). The website will be developed specifically for Dover drivers.
Each battery-operated device comes with a $19.95 price tag to the user. But one perk is that the device comes equipped with $10 of free parking on it, Simon said. The police department paid for the new system using its existing parking fund. After the initial startup costs, the department isn’t expected to incur any additional costs for the system.
Users of the device can put money on the EasyPark through a registered account on the vendor’s website. The payment is then transferred to the EasyPark device through a USB connection.
When a driver uses EasyPark, Simon said the device prompts the user to answer questions, such as what city the driver is in and what type of parking zone the driver is parking in. (Dover has two parking zones: street and lot parking with different time limits). After a few prompts, the device tell the driver how much money has been allotted to the device and what the time limit is for a specific parking zone. If a driver pulls into a parking space at 1 p.m. in a three-hour parking zone, the device will tell the driver that parking is only legally available in that zone until 4 p.m.
Information about the city’s parking zones is pre-loaded into the device, Simon said, so GPS technology is not utilized in EasyPark devices.
Dover’s parking enforcement officers only have to look at the device from the outside of the parked vehicle to ensure the driver has paid to park in that space. They don’t need to scan the device to validate the payment of the parking space.
Unlike the city’s existing parking meters — which measure time bought in increments — the portable devices allow drivers to choose an exact number of minutes to pay for. Dover selected the EasyPark technology as an alternative to launching a smartphone app that would allow drivers to pay for parking via cellphone.
“We felt [EasyPark] was a more universal application. All the tech savvy people could pay by phone or pay by scan code, things like that — but there is a large set number of our driving population that don’t have iPhones or applications or any interest,” Simon said. “Anyone can use this device.”
According to OTI, the cashless devices have been already implemented internationally in countries like Israel, France and Italy, and in April was implemented in Austin, Texas.
Dover hopes to expand the technology out to neighboring cities in the future.
Photo: Coming this November, Dover, N.H., drivers will be able to pay for parking spaces with wireless, in-vehicle devices. Photo courtesy of On Track Innovations.