By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Imagine driving into Center City and knowing exactly where a parking space was available; no circling the block or inching along hoping for a lucky break.

It’s called “smart parking,” and several companies are clamoring to bring it to Philadelphia.

A city council hearing on parking technology drew four companies that have already deployed smart parking in other cities and made elaborate promises about what they could do for Philadelphia.

“We’ll put in 1500 blocks of this solution, free of charge. We will pay for the hardware, the installation, the operations (and) maintenance,” said Kurt Buecheler of the company Streetline.

The hearing comes, by lucky chance, just as the Parking Authority is taking bids for a new smart phone parking app. At the same time, Chief Innovation officer Jim White says the city is working on broader uses for Smart Technology.

“Smart cities applications can span the gamut of transportation, video surveillance, water conservation, measuring air quality, as well as parking and mobility,” he said.

White used the hearing to announce a $200,000 Knight foundation grant to explore how the city can use the “internet of things,” that is, everyday objects that transmit data.

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