Parking tickets now print out wirelessly on the streets of New York

New York City has bought 1,000 handheld computers from Symbol Technologies to issue parking tickets and reduce its ticket error rates from 13 percent to 1 percent.

Courtesy of New York City

New York City parking tickets are getting a high-tech makeover to bring in $2.5 million more per year than current handwritten tickets do.

City officials estimate that ticket deadbeats have been dodging payment of about a million handwritten tickets each year. If a traffic officer takes down the wrong information or writes illegibly, the car owner can get out of paying the ticket.

This month, ticketers in the borough of Queens will trade in their pens and clipboards for handheld computers from Symbol Technologies Inc. New York bought 1,000 of the $2,100 PPT 2800 series handheld scanner-computers from the Holtsville, N.Y., company and plans to order 500 more.

Finance Department officials said they will save the city $2.5 million in the first year by reducing ticket error rates from 13 percent to 1 percent.

Brian Lehmann, Symbol's senior director of global government solutions, said registration stickers, insurance cards and driver's licenses all have bar codes storing information such as car model, year, and identification numbers and drivers' addresses. Agents with the handhelds can simply scan these bar codes without writing anything.

They print out the tickets at the scene on wearable 4-inch thermal printers, also from Symbol, which use the IEEE 802.11b WiFi standard to link wirelessly to the handhelds.

Wireless printing 'is an officer safety issue,' Lehmann said. 'A cable could be used as a weapon, so we don't have wires of any kind.'

After issuing a ticket, the agent transmits the ticket information from the handheld to a Finance Department computer.

The handheld devices are secured by biometric signature capture, Lehmann said. A ticket can be printed only after the unit has detected the issuing agent's signature. 'If a unit got stolen, nobody could issue tickets from it,' Lehmann said.

The Symbol handheld, which runs the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system, has 64M of RAM and a rechargeable lithium battery. Company officials said it is rugged enough to keep working in rain, snow and dust, and it can withstand a 4-foot drop onto the sidewalk.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.


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