Santa Monica, California, as well-known among locals for its lack of parking as its sandy beaches, is unveiling a new online service that alerts people every time a parking space opens up in its central shopping district.
The system, introduced last month, is believed to be one of the first of its kind, says software designer Jim Eshraghi. It updates a new, city-run Web site every five seconds, displaying the numbers of available spaces in downtown structures and at beach lots.
The information will be posted online and on the electronic signs in front of the parking lots and garages. Plans are also in the works to make the system compatible with BlackBerry devices.
The goal is to "make the traffic and congestion problems go away or at least try to alleviate them," says city spokesman Jory Wolf.