The Starkville Daily News reports that the survey is being conducted by Emily Gillylen, who is pursuing a master's degree in public policy and administration at Mississippi State University.
Help is coming from participants in the Mississippi Department of Transportation Urban Youth Corps program and Starkville's Youth Employment Services program.
Gillylen, who is interning with the police department, said her goal in conducting the survey is to quantify the city's parking issues downtown in order to present solutions to the age-old problem.
"With this problem being like it is and the city as a whole not having any documented historical type data on this kind of problem, we just know it's a problem.
"Hopefully what I'll be able to do is (offer solutions). Right now we don't know how to fix the problem because we really don't understand the magnitude. It's like knowing you're sick but you don't know what the illness is, so you can't treat it. We're trying to diagnose the problem so we can treat it in the appropriate manner," she said.
Police Chief David Lindley said he is hopeful this tactic of finding a solution will produce the results downtown business owners and motorists want to see.
"What we're doing is trying to approach this in a matter that we hope we can get accurate data on the nature of the problem and solutions and involve as many people as we can who might be affected by it, (including) merchants and patrons.
"We're trying to get a very thorough and hopefully successful look at this by gathering all the hard data and facts and come up with solutions that would be most successful in implementation," Lindley said.
Gillylen said in addition to calculating capacity and demand, she wants to see who's parked and for how long.
"We're trying to calculate the legal white line parking spaces . and where people are (illegally) parked. We're trying to measure capacity as well as demand. The only way to do that was to get out on foot and actually count them," she said.