So when I read about the Parking 2.0 challenge initially, my first thought was Uber for parking! If somehow we (the drivers of Los Angeles) can apply the Uber model for arriving at a parking spot (either street or in-door) without having to find one yourself as we have to today, that would be Parking 2.0. That would be parking re-imagined to work at our individual convenience, avoiding us from having to drive in circles trying to find a parking spot.
In the TED Talk "A future beyond traffic gridlock" by Bill Ford... He talks about a future where you can designate your destination, and the car will auto-magically have already taken care of the parking details once you arrive there. He talked about a network of vehicles, that by being connected could potentially solve the gridlock issues that only seem to be getting worse and worse in large cities.
This really really, I mean really started to get me thinking about what are the technical concerns about such future, in today's street-level infrastructure, specially here in Los Angeles where I live.
Then I realized that before a super smart car or phone app or cloud software can reserve a parking spot before you get there (assuming that it takes into account street-level parking including meters and preferential zones), it has to understand the rules and regulations of the area in which you can park your car, the same way you do when you read them.
What if this (distance/short?) future that we need to achieve in order to prevent further gridlock implies that the network of connected vehicles has to always know where is the best parking option for you, based on many factors such as time, traffic, availability, cost, street regulations, etc. Factors that are relevant ONLY to the individual driver at a particular point in space and time, literally.
So I decided to focus on solving the problem of telling you where to NOT PARK. By doing so, the future aside and back to present time, if you "knew" where to NOT PARK before you get to your destination, it will reduce the places you search for street parking. This directly reduces the amount of time you spend driving and circling around looking for a street parking spot.
Back to the future now for a moment... If this street geo-time level of information was available to the super smart cars, they would be able to direct you to park at a street spot that is either free or a metered parking spot, ensuring you don't violate any parking rules in that area.
Back to the present time. Today we can use this information to reduce circling around time and AVOID PARKING TICKETS!!!
So that is exactly what ParkLeo can do today!
But first, you might wonder HOW this is possible?
Well, it turns out that the city of Santa Monica has publicly open-sourced this level of geo-location based information, about all their street signs, parking meters, and rules and regulations. All perfectly geo-coded with latitude and longitude.
I started jumping through the roof when I found that out, because that meant this idea was possible to achieve today!!!
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS
Street parking in high-density cities around Los Angeles is regulated by all kinds of crazy rules and regulations that you literally have to read before you decide to park your car there. But this TAKES TIME. And if you're doing this at a peak parking times, it totally sucks.
ParkLeo tells you in real-time or pro-actively (if you manually change the Day and Time) if it is OK or NOT to park in that spot at that time that day of the week. That's it.
Now you don't have to figure this out for yourself as you drive around looking for a parking spot. You can just do it from your the comfort of your own home before you leave the house/office, or from your phone while you are at the stop light waiting.
It is not advised to be looking at the phone's screen while driving. Because this is only a working minimum viable product at the time, it is only accessible via the website.
If this concept and idea proves to be of real tangible value to its user base, then I will have the motivation needed to develop the Android and iOS native apps. Then it would make sense to develop these 2 as SYNC® AppLink™-compatible mobile applications. This would allow real time interaction via voice with the ParkLeo mobile app while you drive.
As part of this prototype, I have the developed the algorithms to process the street parking geo-level sign and zone information. This is available as a REST API now. This is important to note, because ParkLeo provides a parking safety score that could be easily integrated into other applications.
THE DEMO ONLY WORKS IN SANTA MONICA, CA
The attached screenshot shows you what it looks like if you should NOT PARK in that area that you are in at time of the week. The user was searching to park near Montana and Euclid in Santa Monica, CA.
It also shows the location of fire hydrants which will dispatch a warning if you are within 5 meters of one.
And it shows available meter Parking spots near your area.
The data set if only available from the city of Santa Monica, CA.
WE NEED MORE DATA
Just last week, I was at the WehoX.org inauguration event. I had the the opportunity to ask the Mayor of West Hollywood if they had that kind of street level, parking signs, zones, etc data available. He said YES, but it's not public!!!
This means that as more cities open-source their street-level GIS data, the data can be easily (almost instantly) added to the app. No apps would need to be updated in your phone. This is the beauty of cloud computing today. Now let's use it to make parking easier and stress free!!!
Thank you for your time :)
Thoughtfully, Allen Scheinhaus