Smart parking startup Streetline this morning received a $25 million line of credit from Citi to bring its sensor-laden technology to city streets across the United States.
The Foster City, Calif.-based company -- which is funded by Sutter Hill Ventures, RockPort Capital Partners, and Bill Ford's Fontinalis Partners -- will give it the ability to bring its technology to cities without an upfront cost (presumably for a share of the revenue, though Streetline describes it as "pay-as-you-go").
It's a business model we're seeing more and more as cash-strapped municipalities seek savings but don't have the political cover to make the investment. A startup like Streetline tends to not have the deep pockets to make the initial outlay, however. Hence the credit facility.
So how does Streetline's tech work, you ask? Low-power wireless sensors embedded in the parking spaces detect the presence of a car. That information is then relayed, in real time, to the city and via Streetline's Parker mobile/desktop/in-car application.
The value, of course, is data and insights: cities need to better understand how curbside parking is being used over the course of a day, week or more. From that, city officials can do a number of things:
- Understand interdependencies between private cars and public transit, and subsequently tailor public transit schedules and investment accordingly;
- Understand independencies between private cars and other city services (regular street sweeping comes to mind), and subsequently tailor them accordingly;
- Use the data to address increased demand (or a lack thereof) more acutely with more or less parking spaces;
- Charge rates that make sense for usage, e.g. high rates for peak times and low rates for off-peak.
Get beyond a flat fee and fixed number of parking spaces, basically. Get a bit smarter.
The company is partners with several big players in the space, including IBM, Siemens and Xerox (ACS). Together, they're trying to convince cities that parking spaces can be lucrative on their own and can also impact investments in other city infrastructure.
For now, Streetline's deployments span California, Indianapolis, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C. I'm sure a few more cities will be part of that mix shortly.