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Wednesday, 20 April 2011 18:51

Big Brother-style parking meters coming to Melbourne


The state of surveillance technologies and their deployment into everyday life continues its onward march, with new 'in-ground' parking sensors coming to Melbourne City Council streets from July which alert the closest inspector once you're five minutes over the limit.

If you're over the limit in a parking spot, and the parking inspector hasn't come by yet, should a machine be able to alert the closest parking inspector so they can make it to your car post haste to issue a ticket?

The answer seems to be an absolute yes, for the technology is coming soon to the residents and ratepayers of the Melbourne City Council.

It looks like the days of hoping you might just make it back to your car without a ticket even though you're later than expected will come to come to an end wherever the in-ground sensors are installed, and will make presumably make parking inspectors spectacularly efficient. 

It makes you wonder when the parking meter will simply fine you on its own, without any assistance from a parking inspector, although we're not there yet.

Of course, if you have gone over your parking limit, a parking inspector is nearby and you're not there, you'll get a ticket today.

However this new system is clever in that it lets parking inspectors know exactly where to find cars that have overstayed their limit, and then the race is on for the inspector to get there and fine the infringer before the car's owner comes back and drives away.

The Age reports that the Melbourne City Council's new in-ground parking system, coming in July, will alert the closest parking inspector once you've overstayed your parking limit by 5 minutes.

Naturally, residents aren't too happy, saying in an ABC report that it's just another cash grab.


Continued, please read on.


The council already reaps tens of millions in fine revenues each year and the millions more expected to come after the technology's installation.

The Age also reports that 'license plate recognition technology' is to be set up to detect when people have 'overstay parking times in residential areas', among other aspects including suburbs the in-ground sensors are coming to first, and a trial that lets drivers pay for parking meters using mobile phones.  

If the trial is successful, the in-ground sensors may well start becoming more common over the next few years, as councils use the technology to extract as many fines from its ratepayers as possible.

There is, of course, a way to defeat the system and generate no additional revenue for the Melbourne City Council at all, reported to be $33m last year alone.

Unfortunately, however, seeing as it requires everyone to be on time and never give a parking inspector a reason to fine you, human nature guarantees councils the world over an income stream and they do take advantage of it!

If you have a timer on your smartphone, and you park over in-ground sensors, using it will be a very handy way of avoiding an expensive fine.

Alternatively, finding a parking station, even if it means being late, is better than being both dead on time and fined on time.



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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