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Dude, Where’s My Car? New Technology to the Rescue!

It's as if yours was the only car in the lot! (Photo by fotonomous via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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By Jessie De La O/Special to LAistWhen you go shopping at the mall, you assume you’re going to remember the exact location of where you parked your car. Well, sometimes that’s not always the case. There isn’t much you can do except to retrace your steps. And if mall security can’t help you, there is now new technology available to help you locate your parked car.

Santa Monica Place recently unveiled the nation’s first camera-based “Find Your Car” system, reports the LA Times. When shoppers cannot locate their vehicle amongst the array of other parked cars, all they have to do is enter their entire or partial license plate number in to the kiosk’s touch screen, which then displays a photo of the vehicle and its location.

Although the new locating system has proven to be quite helpful, it hasn’t been glitch-free. The system has also come under some controversy for being too intrusive, with concerns involving privacy and security. Shoppers can rest assure that surveillance taken inside Santa Monica Place’s parking garage is not shared with outside entities and is used for internal purposes only. However, if the city’s police department needed access to the surveillance, they could obtain it by issuing a subpoena.

Park Assist, the company that developed the “Find Your Car” system, says its system usually leads to a 3% to 5% increase in customer visits. The company has produced newer technology with assistance from Amano McGann, who designed the system implemented at Santa Monica Place’s parking garage. This new technology will be installed at another location within the next few months and will allow a customer to feed a parking stub in to a machine, which will then display the vehicle’s location. Ultimately, this will give some customers a sense of relief regarding their privacy. On the other hand, there will still be a few others who feel like “big brother“ is watching them.