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New smart parking app launches in London

Westminster council is this week rolling out a 'smart parking' system that will allow drivers to find empty parking spaces through a smartphone app.

By the end of March the council hopes 3,000 infra-red sensors will be embedded in parking spots throughout the borough, capable of determining whether the space is occupied or not.

Drivers will then be able to view which spots are occupied on their phones or mobile devices using the corresponding app.

The smart parking technology was trialled in a pilot programme in 2012, during which time the proportion of unpaid occupied parking spots dropped from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.

Each sensor is costing an estimated £217, with a team of three installing them at a rate of 50 a day. If smart parking proves successful, it is expected to be extended to the 7,000 other parking bays in the borough.

Kieran Fitsall, Westminster City Council Parking Service Development Manager, said: "This leading edge technology using real time information from the bay sensors is already making it easier for motorists to find a parking space.

"It is the blueprint for how every large city will be managing parking in the future, and we're excited to be at the forefront with our ParkRight app."

Fitsall suggests the system could be another step towards a smart city, with data eventually being used together with London's transport information network, offering drivers parking times in the same way they currently get journey times.