The mechanics of paying for parking in Newcastle can be a challenge. You either have to take coins and notes to feed the machine, or hope that the credit card functionality is working. You end up paying for 4 hours but only staying for 2 - or worse, the other way around, and risk getting fined. And if you park for business reasons you end up with a tiny slip of paper that you have to keep somewhere safe to enter your expense claims later.
This is 2016. There is a better way.
Easy Peasy makes your parking easy.
What it does
It's like Opal for parking, but you don't need the card - you have the app. Instead of walking to the parking meter and joining the queue, imagine being able to just open an app on your phone, and tapping a button to indicate that you have parked. The app would record your GPS location, the time that you parked, and when you're ready to leave it would bill your account for just the amount of time that you occupied the spot. No need to worry about coins, or whether the credit card facilities of the parking meter are working. And at the end of the month when you submit your business expense claims you would have easy access to your details from the online portal.
How we built it
We envisage a cross platform smartphone app through which people can "tap" on and off the parking spot. The app would communicate with a webservice which keeps track of user accounts and profiles. Users would also have access to their accounts from a website.
Challenges we ran into
Some parking locations do not have fantastic GPS coverage, in which case we would provide support for QR codes printed on the ground next to the parking spot, as a way to notify the service where you have parked.
What's next for Easy Peasy
Our analysis of the costs associated with this service indicate that we would require 2,500 paying subscribers for the service to be viable. The next step is to validate the problem, the solution, and verify a product-market fit by talking to potential customers, and verifying that they would indeed pay the price we think would work.
Once we have verified interest in the service we would need to approach Newcastle City Council to validate that we can integrate this concept with their existing parking systems. We imagine that parking inspectors would have an app installed with access to the Easy Peasy data, whereby as they walk on their rounds they can see whether a car with a particular registration number was expected to be parked in a particular spot. If the vehicle had overstayed the maximum time allowed by a parking location it would of course be ticketed.