It’s easier now for drivers who have disabilities to locate open parking at OSU
Students, staff and visitors who drive to Oregon State University long have complained about its scarce parking.
But now it’s easier for people with disabilities, who have permits to park in ADA-accessible spaces, to locate open spots using their smartphones.
Over winter break, sensors were imbedded in the pavement of 75 ADA-accessible spaces around 30 buildings at the center of campus. A free app called Parker enables anyone with a smartphone to see where such spaces are available. At the cost of $300 a sensor, it was paid for by Disability Access Services.
“It’s a two-year pilot program,” said Jennifer Gossett, the coordinator at OSU’s disability access services. She said students with disabilities were given priority because it is important that they have parking close to their destination.
The technology involves a “smart parking” platform, which detects the presence of a car through a network of ultra-low power wireless sensors located in each parking space. Information from the sensors then is delivered to a suite of web and mobile applications, including the Parker app by Streetline Inc.
A web-based version soon will be installed, she said, so that disabled people who don’t have smart phones also can check on available spots before setting out.
Gossett said that initially it is for people with disabilities, but the system provides other kinds of parking information to anyone who downloads the app.
“Anybody can use the app to look up specific information about whether a lot is faculty, staff or metered parking, and what type of permits are needed.”
To monitor how much use the technology is getting during the pilot project, Gossett said that Google Analytics will be used to track traffic to the project site, and to see how many people have downloaded the app.
The sensors in the parking spaces will provide real-time data on parking use so OSU knows whether there’s enough ADA-accessible parking on campus.
Gossett said the question people who know about the system most often ask is when the technology will be available for all of the university’s parking spaces. There’s no answer to that one just now, she said, but it is a wish that the university is well aware of.
For more information, and to download the free Parker application, see www.theparkerapp.com.