Thursday, May 29, 2008

SF Technology Spotted - May 29, 2008

I noticed this sign on a parking meter off of Polk Street this past week. I was instantly intrigued and immediately called the number. Paying parking meters by cell phone is stuff that's only supposed to happen in Japan, why was this in my backyard?
My phone call was quickly answered by a robotic automated voice. It proceeded to ask me if I was a new user, and if so to press 1. Naturally, I went forward with caution, and onto the next step. Without pause, the android voice piped in, and requested that I enter my cell phone number, and then my credit card number. I'm assuming this was to create an account for me, so that the next time I chose to pay for a parking spot by cell phone I won't have to go through this process.

My biggest concern with this whole issue was whether or not it was legit. There were no official city stickers, nor did it remotely convey the sense that this was a legal and safe alternative to using coins from my pocket to pay for a parking spot. It seems like this might be a brilliant scheme to gleam credit card numbers from hundreds of people.

Needless to say, I did not intend to pay for a spot that I had no use for, and I needed to pursue the legitimacy of this offer before I give out my credit card number to Mr. Roboto. After arriving home, I popped open my laptop and went to work. After moments, I came across multiple articles that detailed San Francisco's parking meter pay by phone initiative. However, all the articles came from 2007, and I could find nothing from a reliable source from a more recent date. This is the only article that seems to validate the pay by phone sticker.

If this program is indeed a government supported effort, could they please figure out a way to make it seem more protected and safe? I know were not quite Japan yet, so we'll need some coaxing along the way Gavin.

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