Autovu – new Boston parking ticket tech

Products by on May 3, 2005 at 3:17 pm

I’m a creative parker. That is, I’m pretty good at creating parking spots where none previously existed. I’ll never double park, park in a handicap spot or in front of a fire hydrant, but I dislike circling, and I like to find places to put my car. As such, I take an interest in the other side - those that want to write me tickets.

The BTD is now using car-mounted license plate recognition technology to determine if a car has been parked at a meter too long or has enough unpaid tickets that it should be booted.

I was recently walking down Boylston, when I noticed a Boston Tranport Division (BTD) SUV with two 4 devices that looked a lot like cameras. Two were mounted on the roof, and were aimed forward at about waist level to the right and left of the car (This was one of the few times where I wish my cell phone had a camera). There were another two smaller cameras on the rear bumper that were also pointed to the right and left of the car. The BTD car was travelling along the left side of the road, its 2 left cameras aimed at the parked cars along the side.

The cameras had the word Autovu on them. Some quick web research and I learned that Autovu is a Canadian company that has developed cameras for license plate recognition. These cameras are sold to cities, garages and other parking venues for parking enforcement.

There is a great Boston Globe article on Autovu’s website, and more information about Autovu on their site ( Judging from Autovu’s website intro, Autovu appears to be embracing their role as the Dark Lord Sauron (seriously, a giant eye darkly set behind a flash intro is probably not the best consumer relations approach).

Some other interesting tidbits I came across:

  • The camera uses the location of the tire stem to prove that the car hasn’t moved. This system sure beats the chalk marks that San Francisco uses.
  • There are 4 resident parking permits in Boston for ever 1 space.
  • Mayor Menino has tried 7 times in 7 years to install cameras at red lights that snap photographs whenever someone runs a red light. The primary opponents? Privacy advocates and police unions!? The police unions feel they would lose jobs to these devices. This is absurd - so much for protecting the public interest. Red light cameras have been shown to significantly reduce red light running and accidents at intersections around the country. I can’t believe that politicians actually listen to this crap.


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