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The City of Boulder Makes Data-Driven Policy Decisions to Change Rates Based on Utilization

Partnership with Smarking: Parking Data Enables Informed Decision Making

Beginning in October 2016, The City of Boulder, Colorado, partnered with Smarking to gain insight into parking & mobility behavior in Boulder. In September of 2022, the city was preparing to implement dynamic pricing in some of the paid areas. Using parking utilization data from the Smarking platform, the City’s Parking Department recommended the council approve an updated rate structure for 2023 based on historical utilization.

Using Smarking, The City’s Parking Managers crafted a data-led proposal for City Council recommending rate changes on the highest utilized city blocks. Because of the data underpinning the proposal and the comprehensive supporting materials justifying the change, the City Council approved much of the proposed rate structure.

“Working with Smarking has been vital for the successful implementation of this project. Based on the data we have access to and the analytical tools of the software, we can be confident we’re making intelligent decisions that benefit our community..”

Samantha Bromberg-Project Manager, The City of Boulder

The City of Boulder’s Parking and Access Team Uses Smarking to

  • Access detailed and precise information about historical and current utilization of each parking zone in their jurisdiction

  • Assess the impact of rate changes on parking transaction volume in a granular, street-by-street manner

  • Plan and budget for upcoming years

Smarking Heat Maps Create More Efficient Downtown

Based on Smarking’s occupancy information, the parking and access team determined which blocks in downtown Boulder had high on-street utilization, and which areas had low utilization. (Fig 1.) This granular visibility into parking utilization enables the City to determine which blocks might benefit from rate increases and which might benefit from rate reductions or changes to curb use. Their primary goal is to generate parking turnover and availability to reduce cruising behavior of vehicles searching for parking. For example, to improve availability in the highly-utilized Pearl Street Mall area, the City plans to raise rates on the surrounding blocks and measure the impact of those changes on parker behavior.

Fig. 1, Parking usage heat map for the City of Boulder. Parking usage on 11th St. north of Spruce St. is frequently below capacity, whereas parking usage on Spruce St. east of 11th St. is frequently at full capacity.

Because of the hard work by Samantha Bromberg, Cris Jones, and the entire City of Boulder Community Vitality Team, Boulder City Council adopted a plan to increase the price floor of all on-street locations to $1.50/hour and identified high-utilized blocks to $2.00/hour, thereby incentivizing turnover throughout The City and decreasing congestion of vehicles searching for on-street parking. As we turn to 2023, The City will be eager to measure the impact that these price changes will have on parking utilization. The Smarking team looks forward to partnering with the City to continue monitoring parking performance.

“Smarking gives us a holistic view of the ebb and flow of parking and access patterns in our city. We know which parts of downtown are in highest demand and where different pricing strategies might be able to generate mutual benefits for parking customers, downtown business owners, and the broader community in general.”

Cris Jones-Interim Director of Community Vitality, The City of Boulder


About Smarking

Smarking is a San Francisco based tech company serving commercial real estate owners, municipal governments, parking operators, and others to maximize business results for parking assets. Empowered by a team of MIT data scientists, urban mobility experts, Silicon Valley software engineers, and business professionals, Smarking’s market leading business intelligence and yield management software solution suite currently helps over 2,500+ parking locations in the USA and Canada maximize NOI optimization, tenant satisfaction, cost reduction, and enables data-driven parking policies.


Boulder's ability to see this project through to completion is fantastic. When someone starts a project and can't finish it, it irritates me so much, or I get the impression that they are unaware that project managers exist. doodle games


In researching the sociological meaning of images, I discovered that size plays a key role in perception. This inspired me to use skylum's Luminar Neo editor to edit color photos to bring out the emotional essence of the image. Thus, go to the tool, I connected two themes, combining scientific interest in the impact of images on society with the technological ability to change color context and create new visual stories.


Adam Stephens
Adam Stephens
Nov 14, 2023

It's great that Boulder was able to see this project through to completion. It annoys me so much when people can't finish a project they start, or I feel like these people don't even know that there are project managers, which you can read about here, who can help see a project through to completion! Personally, when I have a big project to do, I delegate it.

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