Being Bay Area residents, we are accustomed to parking restrictions, especially in heavily populated areas where parking meters are abundant. Finding parking is very time consuming, forcing people to park very far away from their destination. Providing a tool that will allow people to avoid the fine without having to walk back a very long distance will save them time and energy. We wanted to provide a solution to people so that they don't have to face an enormous fine for parking their car too long.
Some surprising facts we found regarding parking meter violations:
$66 million worth of fines in SF every year are from parking violations in general
25% are from parking meter-related
A fine for this type of violation is approximately $67
Therefore, approximately 700 violations committed in SF alone in a single day
$180 million worth of fines in LA for parking violations, which is nearly three times as much. Therefore, this type of service can potentially have a huge outreach when you factor in all the other major cities in the US (NYC, Chicago, Miami, San Jose, San Diego, etc.)
What it does
It is intended to give users two distinct roles: The Parker and the Hunter Parkers are the ones who are in need and Hunters are those willing to help for financial gain. When the Parkers mark the location of their car and have taken pictures of their car and license plate number, they can create a bounty and people within proximity may make quick money by going to their parking spots and adding in extra money into the meter for them. They will end up paying an additional amount to renew their parking, but they will avoid a fine worth multiple times more than the price for parking.
To verify that the Hunter did do what they were intended to do, they would have to use their smartphone to take an image of the meter to show that it did in fact get renewed.
How we built it
Used iOS with Swift as our platform for the application since this was intended to be used on-the-go. Hosted the website using Google's Cloud Platform and Radix's custom domain suffix. Used Esri for the mapping tools
Challenges we ran into
During the brainstorming session, it took us a bit of time to envision what our product would look like and make sure the process between the users was as minimalistic as possible to make sure our application maintained reliability. Just like any other software project, we could not implement all the exciting features we wanted to use within a small time frame, but we are happy with the progress we made.
Accomplishments that we proud of
We are proud of coming up with this unique idea with a potentially large consumer outreach, based on the parking violation statistics. We are also happy to receive positive feedback from other participants who believe our product has value. Meeting people for the first time and working with them effectively is usually challenging, but everyone's participation and work ethic helped us collaborate together to accomplish the common goal.
What we learned
We learned about how the sponsor APIs work and how they can help us minimize our workload during the development stage. We learned a great deal of new knowledge about iOS programming throughout the process as well as ways we can optimize our organizational skills within a small team.
What's next for MeterHunter
We have a lot of fresh ideas that would help MeterHunter become a more secure and powerful tool for people to avoid parking fines. Some of the ideas that we would like to see implemented in our product include:
- A system to report Hunters for fraud by submitting a picture of the parking citation received due to their failure to follow through on what they committed to. As a result, our system will make the Hunters pay the fine (assuming they made the decision to commit to the task and never did it to try to scam people for their money)
- Expand to different types of parking violations, such as parking near the fire hydrant or parking during street cleaning by letting MeterHunter users notify other users of their illegal parking by searching through the license plate number. This would prompt the user to take action and in return pay a small reward to the notifier.
- Implement a rating system so that the users can trust those with high ratings.
- Implement a registration process that will prevent creation of multiple accounts by users committing fraud.
- Implement a monetization system that would generate revenue for the product that would take a small percentage from every transaction.
We value the well-being of the users, so making the system as foolproof, simplistic, and secure as possible would be the next goal!