Parking Smarter and Connecting Users with a Better Experience is Important
The parking industry is an estimated $24,000,000,000+ industry showing trending growth towards outsourcing operations and services. This is great news for the Smartphone App Developers industry (which is the IBISWorld industry ParkEasy App would fall into), which has grown 36% annually over the past 5 years and has predicted growth of 18.1% over the next 5 years.
There are and estimated 100 and 800 million parking spaces in the U.S. (Jaffe, 2011) and according to ITS America, an estimated 20 million of these spaces are “for-fee.” With the growth of new parking construction, it’s no surprise that over 50% of for-fee facilities accept some form of non-cash payment, with the rest of these facilities having the intention to convert to cashless payment options soon.
Although the predicted user demographic for for smart parking is between 18–49 (which accounts for 75% of the market), adoption of smart parking technology is still in the early stages. This is due to parking operations in the past having very little knowledge of customers’ needs, parking preferences or process frustrations. However, with more and more people becoming increasingly reliant on using apps as part of everyday life, parking operations will be forced to take into consideration of user experience, needs, and desire for cash-less payment and efficient parking solutions. This will eventually lead to other value-added services for the users… which is where ParkEasy Athens comes into play.
ParkEasy Athens is innovative, designed for the user, and the future of smart parking technology. Not only does ParkEasy Athens provide digital cash-less payment abilities, but it also offers other parking management features for the user in addition to features for municipalities that can simply their processes and reduce operating costs.
For parking operations such as ITS and other meter companies, smart parking technology isn’t necessarily about driving up productivity and service in operations though, but rather providing long term value to customers (municipalities) that in turn will learn to expect more and therefore will be willing to pay more for products/apps that make their life easier.
The proof is in the user research gathered during the market research phase of development for ParkEasy Athens. Of the 42 people surveyed, only 28% said they would not be willing to pay for the app. Of the people surveyed that said they would be willing to pay for the app, 33% said they would be willing to pay $0.99, 33% said they would be willing to pay $1.99, and 33% said they would be willing to pay $3.99. More than likely, the app would be offered at no cost by the municipality, but the fact that users would be willing to pay for an app with features such as ParkEasy Athens proves that people value efficiency and positive experience.
ParkEasy uses bluetooth technology and integrates with smart meters through a database structure and associated web services that can exchange information as specified in either a real time format (such as XML) or batch files in a pre-determined time frame (such as daily CSV). The app would work off of an XML data feed to push the data in real time. This structure also would integrate with an API of choice of the whichever city the app is located. In addition, ParkEasy would use the services of Xerox to handle citation processing for host municipality, which also integrates with the city’e enforcement vendor’s handheld devices. ParkEasy also uses vehicle detectiontechnology which uses a proximity reader to determine if a parking space is available or not.
Early growth in smart parking solutions in municipalities is very likely. Municipalities have the opportunity to take advantage of new technology and justify their investment as it would improve user convenience. A great example of a municipality that could easily justify the investment of smart parking technology is Athens-Clarke County in Georgia.
Downtown Athens has a severe parking problem. Many of the streets are one way, which sometimes can make parking frustrating as if you happen to pass an available parking spot, you can’t just make a U-Turn and swing back around to grab the spot. You have to circle downtown and go down a few streets before you can come back to the available parking spot. By the time you do that, 9 times out of 10, that parking spot is gone.
In addition, there is no app for digital payment for metered parking. This means that if you’re parking downtown to have dinner and/or drinks with some friends, by the time you’ve finally found a parking spot (which more than likely is a few blocks from where you actually want to go), fill your meter to the maximum amount of two hours, walk to the restaurant or bar, order your food, it’s close to time to refill your parking meter again. So, you are then at a crossroads… do you leave the restaurant, hike to your car to refill the meter for another two hours, or, do you risk getting one of those pesky orange parking tickets which no one can remember to pay?
With the current frustration of parking in downtown Athens and the lack of an app anything like it, ParkEasy Athens solves problems and makes parking and efficient and an enjoyable experience for its users. With features such as the ability to find vacant parking spaces, as well as the ability refill your parking meter remotely, ParkEasy Athens brings downtown Athens goer’s parking dreams a reality.
Those two features alone would make the app download “worth it” to most, but we didn’t stop there. Designed for the user and their convenience, ParkEasy Athens also incorporates a “Compare Cost” feature that checks nearby deck prices and compares them to metered parking pricing based upon the amount of time you estimate to be downtown. The can save a user a few bucks every time they use the app while parking downtown. In addition, the app also provides other parking management solutions such as the ability to pay a ticket, find your towed car, and renew/purchase parking permits.
What ParkEasy Athens takes into consideration that the competition doesn’t is the ability for local small business where metered parking is located to take advantage of extremely targeted advertising opportunity and offer potential customers complimentary parking. This feature allows businesses to pay “x” amount of dollars for the opportunity to sponsor complimentary parking, then when a predefined targeted user attempts to park in a sponsored space, they will have the option to watch a short 15–30 second ad to redeem 30 minutes of free parking. This would create an environment where businesses can target potential customers and increase brand recognition and loyalty by offering complimentary parking.
Not only does ParkEasy Athens solve the current parking situation that downtown Athens has by addressing the needs of the user first, but it also provide multiple revenue streams to municipalities that can help keep parking costs low.
There is an obvious opportunity for long term revenue growth with the investment in ParkEasy for municipalities by taking advantage of smart parking in its early stages.
“The other guys made parking work. We made parking work better.”
We are currently looking for investors to help fund the full development of this innovative new app. If you or someone you know are interested in hearing more about ways ParkEasy Athens would be an excellent investment, please get in touch with me via DM on Twitter (@jashleypanter).