Sacramento to add 4,500 parking meter sensors around city

Sensors will introduce tiered-pricing model based on location

Thousands of parking meters are about to get an IQ boost.

The Sacramento City Council last week approved the purchase of 4,500 parking meter sensors as part of its SPOTzone, a tiered-pricing system that’s being phased in around town. The idea is to charge people more money the closer they park to happening parts of town.

City spokeswoman Marycon Razo said the new meters will monitor how long a car has been parked in a spot, allowing for rates to increase as time progresses. The parking rates are $1.75 for the first hour, $3 for the second hour and $3.75 for the third. This will allow the city to collect extra revenue if people park on the street for several hours to attend an event downtown, such as a Kings game at the Golden 1 Center.

Razo said the smart meters don’t store any personal info. “It’s my understanding that it’s not taking any type of information like your credit card information,” she said.

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told SN&R in an email that, “while we haven’t reviewed the specific details of this smart meter program, we have concerns about the collect-it-all, ‘big data’ mentality, where entities are gathering, combining and analyzing large and small data sets.”

Tien continued: “Frequently users haven’t consented to what’s actually being done with their data, and often ‘big data’ means ‘data being used for something different than its original intended purpose.’”

In January, Mark Graham sued the Sacramento Municipal Utility District over its smart meters. One of his contentions: SMUD’s meters allow for the collection of customer data that can be sold to advertisers.

Tien also said the EFF has security concerns about data-gathering technologies. “Pulling terabytes of sensitive data together in one place creates a huge target for malicious attackers looking to score the next data breach,” the attorney said.