Chicago resident Jeremy Smith created SpotHero, a website and app that lists parking availability and regulations throughout a designated city. Helping drivers navigate varying rules and high levels of congestion, the program lists parking prices and inventory so drivers can find a legal spot quickly and efficiently.
After winning top honors in the Apps for Metro Chicago contest, SpotHero has expanded its presence into seven cities across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Smith selected cities similar to Chicago such as New York City and Washington, D.C., due to their size, population density and high concentration of car commuters battling the parking puzzle on a daily basis.
Smith battled high parking demands while living in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, and now his SpotHero app houses data on nearly every municipal garage in the city, as well as privately leased spaces people may wish to rent, the Atlantic Cities reported.
San Francisco and Seattle already launched their own parking apps to counter the congestion, also providing data-driven solutions for parking scarcity. The apps typically feature an available parking inventory map online or from a smartphone. The technology collects data from lot owners free of charge to determine where spots are available. Each booking made through the app generates a commission back to SpotHero.
The apps functionality operates similar to a travel website you would use when booking a hotel or other reservations. Users who did not plan ahead but find themselves without a parking spot can use the app to determine pricing in a specific are and see what options are available based on your location without having to circle around and read the signs.
Keep It Up Chi Town
SpotHero is not the only Chicago-based parking app for smartphone users. The city is also testing a new parking meter app allowing drivers to pay for a parking spot using their devices.
Drivers will find a parking spot and enter into a mobile the meter number and how long they plan to occupy the space. The app will be linked directly to a debit or credit card stored in the user’s profile so a card does not have to be charged on-site, and no printed receipt will have to be placed in the car’s dashboard.
When time is expired, the driver will be able to renew their parking without having to return to the meter. The mobile app will send users a text message reminder 10 minutes before the expiration of their parking sessions so they can maintain their spot legally.
The parking meter app is one of many changes the city of Chicago worked out when officials renegotiated its 75-year parking meter contract with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC. When the city first privatized the meters, the end result enraged many residents not happy with the higher costs and longer meter hours. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has since redesigned the contract and since saved motorists and the city about $2.1 million in the second half of 2013.
EfficientGov has kept tabs on the latest solutions for parking headaches, such as public-private partnerships to operate and maintain meters throughout major metropolitan locations.