Project Title: SmartPark: Smart People, Smart World, Smart Park
Requested Amount: $500,000.00
Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: ~ 12 months
Team Members: Shivangi Sharma, Emilie Farrugia, Youssef Farran
Describe your Project:
From major metropolitan cities to small towns, parking is a daily issue faced by all residents. In New York City alone, drivers spent an average of 20 minutes looking for a parking spot. The unnecessary time spent in the car by each driver greatly increases carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Aside from the environmental impact, many drivers drive in circles to find a parking spot. Often times, they have to park in farther away, more unsafe places such as unlit lots or unmonitored parking structures.
We’re proposing to build an application that aims to solve some of these inefficient practices. SmartPark conveniently provides real-time information about available street parking near one’s destination. In addition, the application will provide fare information and parking regulations in the selected city. The application would allow the user to check parking options on the street, in a parking structure or in a parking lot. These options would also include business hours and parking rates.
Our application aims to save users not only time but also energy put into a simple action. Instead of requiring the user to find change or a credit card to pay the parking fees, the transaction would occur through the application. There would also be a timer that would inform the user that their meter is about to expire. This would save the user from having to walk back to their car, a valuable measure especially when it is cold or unsafe at night.
A feature that sets us apart from our competition is that we want to also make our technology available to people who do not download our app. Similar to signage seen at parking garages, we plan to create digital signs at the beginning of busy blocks, informing drivers how many parking spots are available on the street. This feature aims to reduce the amount of time drivers spend looking at their phones. It also broadens the audience to individuals who may not have access to the application or may be encountering interference with their cellular network while driving.
The primary goal when designing the interface of the application is that it should be user friendly, intuitive and simple. Some of the reviews of Parker was that it was confusing to use and there was a lot of information presented on the screen. Our application would use Google Maps and allow the user to specify which type of parking they are looking for. For example, when it is snowing, the user may prefer covered parking as opposed to one on the street. Another distinct feature in our application is the ability to search destinations such as restaurants to check for the parking availability.
We believe that SmartPark will revolutionize people’s daily commutes and benefit not only the public but the environment as well.
What unmet need does your product meet?
There is a significant gap in the market for mobile applications that enhance user parking experience. Living in such a fast-paced environment puts a constant pressure on us to get to places quickly and efficiently. When we put in the effort, time and money to drive somewhere, we expect to find immediately accessible parking in the vicinity of our final destination. More often than not, this is not the case, and drivers are stuck circling through structures, streets or lots trying to find a nearby spot. This causes frustration, wastes time and money, and increases CO2 emissions exponentially over time.
Let’s be honest, there are no convenient ways to find available parking on city streets. Parking structures provide information on how many spots remain open within their own facility, so why not provide a tool that can accommodate the same need to individuals that park on the open street? Our product will provide a revolutionary approach to easy accessible street parking, guaranteed.
Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety.
Kaavya Puttagunta, 21, is a senior at the University of Michigan whose family resides in the suburbs of Ann Arbor. She wishes she could bring her car to campus for the convenience of driving home. Kaavya prefers street parking because she has often been cat-called and has watched drug deals occur in parking structures.
Kellie Condon, a 21 year business student at the Ross School of Business lives one mile away from her classes. She often wishes that she would not have to spend so much time looking for parking spots. It is often difficult for her because she drives to class in order to not be late but then finding a parking spot makes her late.
Sydney Farrington, 21, is a senior at the University of Michigan. Sydney has her car on campus primarily to drive home to Birmingham, Michigan, on weekends, drive to the hospital to volunteer, and pick up groceries. She recalled her occasional lateness to her volunteer job because she could not find a spot in the large, crowded parking structure and found herself looping through structure’s many levels.
Khaled Mheisen, 25, is a financial advisor at AXA Equitable. Many of his daily tasks require him to meet with clients outside his office to discuss potential business endeavors, which usually take place in the downtown area. He said “the traffic can be annoying, but what’s worse is when there is no traffic and you’re still late because you couldn’t find a parking spot.”
How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use.
In 2011, Access Magazine counted approximately 105 million metered parking spots in the United States. There are an estimated 240 million cars on the road everyday. According to Donald Shoup, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning, parking in cities generates the largest carbon footprint out of any land use project. In 2014, he estimated that in a 15 block region of Los Angeles, motorists drive an extra 950,000 miles in one year to find a parking spot. In this small neighborhood, an extra 47,000 gallons of gas was used to find parking, emitting 730 additional tons of carbon dioxide.
How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitors
There are currently a few options for parking applications in the app store. Many, however, revolve around long-term parking at airports. Parker, the most similar existing app, focuses mostly on parking structure availability. The mission of SmartPark, however, is to reduce the need to build more parking structures and save time and gas money that is spent looping through a parking structure. Parker uses sensors on parking spots, like we are proposing, to monitor when a car is occupying the spot. This application allows you to save to your spot on your phone, providing you with directions back to your car, mobile pay options, and a search feature. However, Parker repeatedly crashes, uses up an exorbitant amount of cell data, and does not accurately show open street parking. We want our app to emphasize street parking availability.
One feature that is completely exclusive and original to our product is our digital street sign concept which provides notice of available parking spots to drivers. This innovative technology will allow drivers to quickly determine whether or not they should take the chance of turning onto a street to find a parking spot. This is what will set us apart from our competitors.
How will your idea be financially sustainable?
We plan to partner with cities to help develop the software for this project. The incentives for the cities is that it is greener, reduces traffic and enables a greater degree of tourism because there is more freedom to visit downtown areas. The grant money can be used to fund the software and motion sensors needed. Our quality motion sensor software will be reliable without necessary maintenance for many years and eventually only a small portion of revenue generated from parking fares would be required for maintenance. The city could then continue collecting the fares as profit. Our project is a self-generating concept that will only need a one time installment fee, and the profit generated by the increased demand for street parking will sufficiently fund any future aspirations.
Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?
As students living in downtown Ann Arbor, each of us have suffered the negative consequences that come from not adequately being able to find a parking spot. Our desire to provide a precise and convenient search process for parking availability is something we strongly believe will help drivers everywhere. With diverse backgrounds in sciences and the arts, we have the creativity to develop a project that will not only help people better their daily lives, but also provide a cleaner environment by reducing the toxic emissions emitted from vehicles. Smart people, smart world, smart park.