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Austin, Texas Considers Deputizing Smartphone Owners for Parking Enforcement

The city of Austin, Texas is considering the implementation of program called "Parking Mobility" that seems like a surefire way for some do-gooder citizen to get his or her butt kicked.

According to, the Austin city council unanimously voted on Oct. 20 "to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app." The plan would allow anyone with an Android, Blackberry or iPhone to download a "parking ticket app." If they see a vehicle that is parked in a handicapped parking spot, the "deputy" would then take three photographs (of the license plate; the windshield; and the car in the handicapped parking sign). The software from Parking Mobility then transmits the photos and the GPS location to the city so it can issue a ticket. says that the city council meeting was attended by disabled advocates trying to guarantee easier parking and "others who were just interested in writing the $511 tickets." Some attendees even asked if the city would provide them with smartphones so they could start community-policing the handicapped spots. The council has reportedly asked the city manager to report back on the feasibility of the program within ninety days.

Parking Mobility's website notes that as an additional incentive for neighbors to rat each other out, "when the city collects the fine, your favorite charity receives 20% of the fine!"

On the subject of the potential beatdown that might be given to a person caught in the act of taking the three photos, Parking Mobility has a "Personal Safety" section on its website that states:

For your safety, we have designed Parking Mobility to minimize the amount of time you need to be around the vehicle parked illegally. The less time you’re around the vehicle, the less likely you may be confronted by the owner. ...

If you are confronted by someone while taking the 3 photos, we strongly encourage you to simply walk (or roll!) away. Again, no violation is worth putting yourself in harm's way. But also remember that taking photos of an illegally parked vehicle is a legal activity -- you have done absolutely nothing wrong.

Check out Parking Mobility's "How it Works" video here:

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 2, 2011 at 03:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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