Since October last year, motorists in Decatur, Ga., have had the option to pay for metered parking using cell phones. After pulling into a parking space near the courthouse, the driver dials in a parking space number and the allotted time before receiving a text message confirming authorization. MobileNOW!, the company spearheading the project, plans to expand coverage later this year to 350 spaces, up from 50.

While fledgling, the initiative could soon spread fast if Americans find it as useful as Europeans: the company's licensor has so far installed 70,000 mobile parking meters in Belgium, plus others in the United Kingdom, Estonia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

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