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February 15, 2013

Jacksonville Parking App for Smart Phones Could Cost the City $300,000

by Sam Ranard

The city of Jacksonville as proposed a smart phone application that will help people find parking spaces. While the app sounds facially convenient, it seems that the app my have some inherent downfalls. The development and implementation of the app could end up costing the city as much as $300,000.

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Courts & Sports writer and contributing attorney John M. Phillips weighed in on the issues underlying the parking app:

“Despite downtown Jacksonville’s one-way streets, roundabouts, pedestrians and distracted drivers, the city is promoting a new phone application to help people find open parking meters downtown.

Instead of finding a way to inspire people to use the Skyway and its adjacent empty garages or using city money to clean up downtown, the city would rather step into the digital age at a cost of about $25 per sensor. By doing so, Jacksonville is eating away at the parking profit it had to encourage distracted driving.

Bad call — no pun intended.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

Studies have shown drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. The city, of course, has sovereign immunity and will blame you if you get into an accident using the app to park your car.

And then there is the invasion of privacy. Do the meters “work in reverse,” meaning meter police can monitor expired meters, leading them right to the expired ones? And you may need to hire a lawyer of your own to decipher the “terms of service” that you have to accept to use the free app, which allows the company to use your information and disclose it to others.

All in all, I hate the idea. The primary areas by the Landing or Main Library where there is traffic congestion do not need any help raising revenue. Areas further away do not have parking problems that I have seen.

It is a gadget. It is a distraction.

And it is just adding another peril for pedestrians to avoid while they are trying to go to work.

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