Meet the ‘SafetyStick,’ Somerville’s New Robotic Approach to Doling out Parking Tickets


The Boston Globe recently featured a new technology that is designed to make streets safer, the SafetyStick®, a new auto enforcement capability created by Municipal Parking Services, an enforcement solutions company based in Austin, Texas.

City leaders in the Boston suburb of Somerville, MA, decided to install the new SafetyStick® in an effort to improve street safety and reduce illegal parking at the busy city corner of Elm and Chester St. in Davis Square.

The city has struggled with keeping the intersection open for pedestrians and city buses as drivers often park cars in the bus lane, knowing that they can do their quick business and depart before local parking enforcement has a chance to respond and issue a citation.

The Boston Globe article quoted Suzanne Rinfret, Somerville’s City Director of Traffic and Parking, stating:

“There are always these quick stops people do. They might run in for five minutes, but five minutes is five minutes too long when a bus can’t pull up to a curb or a biker is coming down a bike lane, or a person can’t be seen in a crosswalk.”

MPS has found the issue of no-parking zone enforcement to be a nationwide challenge, one that puts both commuters and pedestrians at risk. Unfortunately, with tight city budgets and challenges with police staffing across the nation, there is simply not enough enforcement staffing and infrastructure available to keep illegal parkers accountable.

The City of Somerville recently installed three of the MPS SafetySticks to test the new, wireless, and fully solar-powered technology for effectiveness and enforcement accuracy. Suzanne Rinfret was quoted saying:

“In just 67 days, the sticks, which sit waist-high and contain little cameras capable of keeping an eye on a small area, counted 469 violations, or about seven per day. Some drivers parked in the same illegal spot more than once. In one instance, a car blocked the bus stop for over 30 minutes.”

The early success in Somerville has the nearby cities of Lynn and Everett moving to deploy the SafetySticks in an effort to gain back control of no-parking zones and improve traffic safety.

MPS Vice President of Sales Rob Matthews shared:

“The SafetyStick® has proven to deter illegal parking and change driver behaviors over time. In the community of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for example, we were seeing about 11 violations a day in one space when they were first installed, but after four years of 24/7 enforcement, the number of violations has dropped to less than one per day.”

To view the Boston Globe article, click here.