Many of us have been through the progression: "I'll never use a cell phone" evolved into "I'll never use a phone to send text messages" and that changed to "I don't need a phone that lets me get on the Internet, pay bills, check the weather forecast, etc."
But the funny thing about many advances in technology is that once we try them and then become accustomed to using them, it's hard to imagine day-to-day life without them.
Therefore, it's important for communities to embrace opportunities to improve efficiencies and make life easier for residents through technology when it makes financial sense.
That's why we applaud the Auburn City Council and City Manager Douglas Selby for the decision to implement a mobile payment program for metered parking in the city.
The system will be administered by a company called Pango that has been doing this with great success in Europe and is now entering the U.S. market. Essentially, people will be able to register for parking time through Pango's online system or its smartphone app. It eliminates the need to dig around your car for quarters or to rush into a nearby store and ask a cashier for change. There's also no more climbing snow banks to feed a meter or to get to a parking kiosk with this system. All it take is a few touches on a smartphone.
For the growing number of people who have embraced their iPhones, Androids and other similar devices, it's a great service.
But it's also important to note that the city is NOT getting rid of its existing meters and kiosks. People who don't want to use the new Pango system will not have to.
Auburn plans to enter into a two-year contract to provide this option to its downtown visitors. The start-up costs are minimal and the overwhelming portion of the parking fee revenue generated stays with the city.
If in two years the system has generated little or no revenue, the city can move on without it. But we have a suspicion that there's a lot of people out there who will eventually embrace this alternative.