Reserve Your Parking Spot
I recently read about a new feature launched by Google Maps shared in Tech Crunch by Sarah Perez. This feature is geared to assist you in finding parking by providing analysis based on historic parking conditions around the selected destination.
As per the article, the feature will mentally prepare you by predicting how difficult it will be to find a parking space at your destination. Google says it’s now providing a parking difficulty score, which will be displayed in Google Maps’ directions card as “Limited,” “Medium,” or “Easy,” depending on the parking situation in that area. But the major caveat is, it is not based on real-time data or not even near real-time.
I believe that social apps like Waze or Google maps with their enormous user base should go many steps ahead by actually helping in finding the parking space by leveraging the location services and the access to the immensive data they have. Just giving a difficulty score won’t solve the problem. Everyone knows that it is difficult to find parking in city center at busy times, we really can’t depend on just the historic data for validation. In fact, it can mislead many of us. On anticipation of non-availability/limited availability of parking based on the historic data, many people like you and I, might give up looking for the parking in the destination area and that false anticipation followed by many of google maps users could actually make more parking available.
And vice-versa is also true. In areas where parking is predicted to be easy by the app based on historic data prediction, many more drivers would try to find the parking. Thus, making it difficult to find one in the reality. Which would eventually make the prediction wrong and beat the reliability of the parking score.
Having a real-time precise information will alleviate the pain of users like us who have to struggle in circling around to find a parking spot.
On further exploration, I think a solution to parking problem can be easily developed in managed parking lots and garages specially in office campuses, shopping malls, university campuses, public offices and big buildings to start with. Where people like you and I upon selecting the destination on maps, can also request for the parking spot with an option to reserve a specific available spot. Maps apps have the exact precise arrival information which can be used. Then we will not have to drive around in the parking lot in order to find the available space.
The frustration of circling can be minimized. Sharing a personal recent experience, where it took me 55 minutes on a Thursday evening to find parking at 6:30 PM in Santana row in Downtown San Jose multi-level parking garage. It was pouring heavily outside and I was getting late for an event and to add to the strain further my car’s gas gauge dropped from 15 to 10 miles.. predicting the remaining fuel and that I drove for ~5 miles in the parking garage itself while hunting for the parking :( The time wasted and frustration is beyond comprehension!
The worst scenario is that some of the cars which were coming later in the garage were still able to get the parking space when the space was becoming available in their vicinity. The algorithm takes the form of LIFO (Late In First Out) instead of @FIFO (First In First Out).
Parking is one of the most tedious things tied to driving. As very nicely stated by Willa Ng, City Lead for Parking and Transportation @SFO, about helping people to find a parking without circling is a major problem that city authorities are facing.
GoogleMaps/Waze/Apple maps please please use it and make our lives easier by saving our precious time, energy, and this environment by reducing #of cars that are circling while looking for parking, and in the process adding to the pollution and traffic on the roads.