Recently the National Geographic Explorer released a list of 25 cities in the United States they have identified as the happiest cities. They identified 15 key metrics that they consider good proxies for the happiness of the residents there, and interviewed nearly 250,000 adults to find out which cities matched those metrics.

 The three top cities chosen as America’s Happiest Places were Boulder, Colorado, Santa Cruz, California and Charlottesville, Virginia. Here at Streetline we noticed an interesting fact about these happiest cities: They all have smart parking.

 One of the common factors these happiest cities have in common is sustainable urban development policies, which include planning for smart transportation and smart parking. According to Smart Cities DIVE, Boulder Colorado has been an early leader in smart parking systems since 1970, using designated improvement districts to set carefully managed variable pricing for parking. They are using the latest technology to drive these improvements, including experiments with a fully automated parking garage as part of a mixed-use development, according to the Denver Urban Review.

Santa Cruz uses smart parking both for its on-street meters and for its signature attraction, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Charlottesville is experimenting with a pilot program of smart meters. These kinds of smart parking solutions, like the ones Streetline deploys, lead to sustainable transportation and urban development that ultimately has a big effect on the happiness of residents.

 As the author of the National Geographic Report Dan Buettner puts it, “There’s a genesis to it. Enlightened leaders make conscious decisions to favor quality of life over economic development or political expediency.”