Denver's meters may be smart, but they can also be dim

How smart are Denver's new "smart" meters if they're so dim you can't read them at night? We could find out soon enough, if Denver City Council tonight passes the plan to allow all-night parking in parts of downtown -- parking that you'll have to pay for, according to new rules that will be programmed into those smart meters.

Rules you may not be able to see. As it is, it can be tough just seeing if a meter has accepted your credit card and, if so, how much time you've put on the meter.

Asked about difficulties reading those meters in the dark, Daelene Mix, interim communications director of the Denver Department of Public Works, offered this: "We have had a few comments about the readability of the screens in the dark (the meters are currently in use after dark until 10 p.m.), but not many. The ambient lighting in metered areas usually provides enough lighting for the screens, but if we get a complaint on a specific location we have a technician check the brightness and adjust it as needed.

"One of the trade-offs of using green, solar-powered meters is the lack of a back-light feature. So even though the current lightening seems to be working very well, we are constantly looking at updates and enhancements to our current meter operations, and additional options for screen brightness is one of our pro-active requests."

Expect those requests to increase if and when city council approves the all-night parking plan. Read about more trouble with Denver's meters -- in broad daylight! -- here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun