24-year-old Eric Meyer of Canton, Baltimore was sick of trying to find a parking space every time he came home from work. Instead of complaining he did what many young entrepreneurs today are doing and created an app, called Haystack, that allows people in the Baltimore area to “rent” their dedicated parking space to people who need them.
This trend can be seen all over the United States due to the symbol fact that people are moving back into cities and, with this new influx of automobiles, parking spaces are at a minimum (For all the details, see the full story here).
In cities like Miami Beach, where there are two mobile parking apps, and Chicago where ParkChicago is set to cover all 36,000 of the city’s parking meters by summer’s end, mobile parking apps are taking the industry by storm.
Casey Jones, a spokesperson for the International Parking Institute, says that “What we’re seeing is a demand from our consumers to offer a level of convenience that really heretofore hadn’t been the hallmark of the parking industry.”
The parking problem isn’t limited to the United States however, and in Europe parking technology like we’re starting to see here has been around for several years. The fact is that in most European cities the population is denser and there is even less room for new parking spaces and parking garages.
To sell, or not to sell, your parking space
Not everyone is enthusiastic about this new slew of parking apps. In San Francisco for example, the city attorney has already threatened to sue MonkeyParking, and app that lets users sell their non-dedicated (i.e. free) parking space for a fee. According to the city attorney’s office the same thing will soon happen to Sweetch and ParkModo if they don’t cease and desist with their apps.
City Atty. Dennis Herrera is against the apps because, in his opinion, they allow users to sell a public commodity. Supporters say that they’re not selling the parking space but instead the information about which ones are open, and that it’s already being done by people all over the city anyway.
Saving time, money and gas
Not only do many of these new parking apps allow people to pay for their parking remotely, make sure that they don’t run low on credit and prevent them from parking ticket fees, it also reduces the amount of time that drivers have to drive around looking for a parking space. The impact of one driver might not be significant, but with millions of drivers it certainly would.
Jeremy Smith had $5000 in parking tickets when he decided to launch SpotHero, a parking app that lets drivers reserve their parking spaces as well as get discounts in certain. Smith says that “I realized if I was reserving my parking online, I could be solving my own problems.”
What’s in store for the future?
Services that allow drivers to not only find but pay for parking spaces from their car is right around the corner. For example, both Parkopedia and ParkMobile have partnered with automobile makers Ford and Volvo to give drivers an in-car, voice activated parking access service.
For drivers everywhere frustrated by a growing lack of parking spaces in cities big and small, this emerging trend is good news that will hopefully save them a lot of time, energy, gas and, maybe most importantly, stress.