ParkOmaha to implement parking plan that includes ‘smart loading zones’

City says Automotus will help make changes that focus on utility and efficiency
Omaha is piloting a new parking plan aimed at making the use of spaces more efficient in the city's most congested areas.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 2:42 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - City officials recognized a parking problem during the height of the pandemic: Parking spots were being used for non-parking reasons.

“Typically the curb in the past has always been for parking; it’s no longer just parking anymore,” said Omaha parking and mobility manager Ken Smith. “We have to get your ride-share services like Uber, Lyft... We need to get the Amazon, FedEx, UPS -- we need to get them up to the curb so they’re not blocking the street.”

ParkOmaha’s plan involves bettering the use of the city’s available parking space.

ParkOmaha is working with the city to implement a new parking plan aimed at lessening congestion in the city's parking spaces.

“Maybe it’s a loading zone in the morning when services and restaurants are loading up, and it switches over to a parking place in the evening,” Smith said. “We’re able to create this smart zone for efficiency and utilization at the curb.”

Omaha is working with Automotus, which plans to help increase parking availability and make things safer for delivery drivers and ride-share drivers. A camera will keep track of who parks in the loading zones by capturing an image of the vehicle’s license plate.

“We don’t actually store anything on our servers,” said Anil Merchant, Automotus’s chief product officer. “We process the activity in real-time, and then we’ll extract data including how long the vehicle is parked for, what sort of parking activity happened, and then take that back and analyze it.”

“It’s an automated system,” Merchant said. “Eventually, we’ll charge them according to the use of that space and that will remove the fees from the property owner onto the user of the space. That drives efficiency, too. Now it’s not just one property owner, it’s the others in the area that can use that zone, and then we also get the turnover in that space.”

As for now, the city will collect data to help put its new parking policy in place.

Only commercial delivery vehicles and ride-shares will need to register. Enforcement of the policies will come after more data is collected.