You're shopping when you receive a text message on your cell phone. It's from the parking meter to tell you that you've been given a fine.

A science-fiction nightmare? No, this could soon be the reality of urban parking in Britain as technology already in use in France, where smart meters are flourishing, is introduced.

About 60 French municipalities have installed a system developed by Technolia, an engineering company, that detects the presence of vehicles and alerts police if drivers stay over their allotted time.

“We are revolutionizing parking with the individual monitoring of spaces,” said Claude Zandona, the company's managing director.

The meters create magnetic fields capable of registering the metal mass of vehicles. They have a direct computer link to a police station.

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