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Save yourself the expletives: ParkMe real-time parking app launches for downtownAustin
How many times have you circled downtown, uttering expletive after expletive because you can’t find a parking spot, you’re late, and you just forked over $20 to a surly parking attendant because you’ll officially lose your cool if you have to go around the block one more time?
Funny that a couple of Californians would attempt to resolve this issue before an Austinite, but Sam Friedman and Alexander Israel of Santa Monica have spent the past three years developing the technology to end this pain in the ass, once and for all, under the start-up ParkMe, whose app launched in Austin on Wednesday.
The mission of ParkMe is simple: Make parking easier. ParkMe began as a website which delivers real-time occupancy and pricing information for over 25,000 parking locations in over 500 cities in 19 countries. Austin, however, is the first city to get its own free mobile app, which provides easy to read heat maps (green for vacancies, red for fat-chance) for street parking on a block-by-block basis. The data is refreshed every five minutes and is provided by the Smart Parking meters — you know, the ones that print out a sticker for your windshield.
So how did Austin get so lucky to be the first city granted a ParkMe app? “We chose Austin because it had the proper technology, and is very early-adopter and tech-savvy,” Friedman tells CultureMap. “And although there’s a small-town vibe, there are still paring problems. We thought it was an awesome mix of things; it was either San Francisco, L.A., New York or here.”
“We realized [parking] is a universal pain — in China, Europe or here — it’s global,” Friedman says. “Parking has been an industry that’s always been hidden, yet is tremendously large. It’s such a big industry — about 30 billion dollars a year — and is ripe for improvement. The largest improvement made in the parking industry was made in 1938 when the first parking meter was invented.”
ParkMe is currently striking partnerships with downtown alliances and businesses, and eventually hopes to approach large event companies like Eventbrite, which could provide parking information alongside online ticket purchases.
It’s worth asking just how green an app centered around car-use can inherently be, a hot-topic that the ParkMe team’s got covered.
“There is a study that says thirty to fifty percent of traffic congestion in urban cores is caused by folks trying to find a parking space,” Friedman says. “So if you eliminate the 'finding' aspect and you tell [users] where to go right away, you can reduce gas consumption, carbon admissions and, quite frankly, stress. I definitely think there is an eco-friendly aspect to what we’re doing.”
So next time you have a date, meeting or concert to go to downtown, pull up the ParkMe app (but only at red lights or while parked) and instantaneously find the closest and cheapest place to park. You’ll save time, a headache and a handful of swear words. And why not take advantage of being the first city in the world to receive this individualized treatment.
Who knew parking could get people so revved up (forgive the pun)? “[Parking] isn’t the sexiest thing at the cocktail party,” Friedman laughs, “but it works.”