Whatever reason you have to drive into the ‘big city’ – as part of your weekday commute, or for something a bit more fun – the odds are that part of your journey is going to involve crawling along at no miles an hour. Either you’re doing endless circuits around an outdoor car park, scowling at people chatting in their cars who should definitely be getting out of your way… or else you’re turning left, left and left again looking for the last remaining space in a grim 60s multi-storey. It’s rubbish, but it’s unavoidable, right? Well… maybe not, if you have ParkMeNow installed.
Find Your Sweet Spot
A lot of parking apps exist – most of which are there to let you pay for your parking without needing change… which in itself is a pretty useful thing. ParkMeNow looks to handle the bit before that which is potentially even more annoying than putting the same dodgy pound coin into a meter over and over – actually finding a spot in the first place. And it does so with a single touch!
When you get close to your destination, click to open your app – that’s all you need to do. ParkMeNow will quickly display your location on a map, and visibly pinpoint all the nearest parking locations – colour coded by area and likelihood that they are available. That includes street parking, indoor car parks, both free and paid, and clicking a provider displays opening hours, location, prices and other useful information. Basic parking parameters are included to set things like vehicle height and length, and the type of space required, eg. disabled or motorbike spaces.
Making Spaces Work
One of the cleverest things about ParkMeNow – and one of the main reasons that previous attempts haven’t gained traction – is that it works with all levels of car park ‘integration.’ Most street parking bays aren’t connected to any kind of technical infrastructure to say whether they are free or not. Gated car parks usually know how full they are – some by total, some to the number of available spaces on any given level. At the top end of the spectrum are fully integrated car parks with sensors in every spot to say whether it is taken.
No-one would argue that full integration isn’t where parking is headed – but not for a little while yet due to setup costs. ParkMeNow works with all these different types of car parks. Where live space data exists, the app uses it… where it doesn’t, it uses averages based on time of day, day of the week, to give you the best odds of finding somewhere.
ParkMeNow was built by a not-for-profit organisation, with seed investment from the council, a local university and the tourist board. It’s been running in a first version in Leeds for nearly a year now, and even without any user accounts or features above the basics, it is now being used by a community of over 4,000 people every week! Perhaps more impressively, ParkMeNow have managed to sign up 80% of all the parking providers in Leeds, by demonstrating the benefits (and a bit of ‘you wouldn’t want to be the last to sign up…’ tactics.)
The first non-beta release of the app just went live this week, and adds in a number of additional features such as user accounts and vehicle profiles, user ratings for locations, and real time updates if you leave a search open on the app. In addition, the app is now beginning to gain traction in Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool, with a handful of other UK cities due to come online within the next 3 months now they have passed the proof of concept stage.
One feature that may turn out to be a real ‘killer’ for this app is the ability to advertise when you have a space or parking credit to pass on, available in certain locations only. ParkMeNow users can advertise when they are about to leave a space and hand it over directly to other users of the app, making this more of an exclusive platform than ever.
Reaching Their Destination
At the moment, the ParkMeNow NFP organisation is looking to take on Round A investment – though finding the right partner is obviously extremely important for a community based app of this type. Features that are set to appear once investment are secured are impressive, especially the ability to reserve, book and/or pay for a space as you are on your way – whilst staying true to the single click ethos as far as possible. Voice activation is also high on the list, as the app increases in complexity, as is taking the drivers ultimate destination into account when searching.
They also have plans to integrate a wealth of add-on services into the platform, including ordering car wash/valet, servicing, tyre replacement… all direct to your car. ParkMeNow will be helping you avoid the frustrating crawl for many years to come!
As always… sound too good to be true? Wondering why this doesn’t already exist?!
Park Me Now is what you get when you take a bunch of lovely, engaged Leeds folk – fill them full of beer and curry, and use LightStart’s interactive process to convert an idea into a strategy… even an entire business model!
We were very happy to be running one of our app to idea events on behalf of AMSource Technology at the ODI Leeds last Thursday – Techconnect 2.2. AMSource are regular attendees at our Leeds Digital Coffee Mornings, and have been running events for a little while, generally technical events. When they decided to run an event aimed more at Business Analysts and businesses in general, we were invited to present – it was wonderful being in a room full of so many analytical people, and the feedback received was excellent!
Thanks to AMSource for inviting us, and to everyone who came down, for getting involved and having SUCH great ideas in the first place. And thanks to brilliant local food heroes Manjit’s Kitchen for providing such yummy brain food!
LightStart’s process starts by capturing the ideas you have and the issues you want to overcome, prioritising them, and mapping them to focused outcomes. These in turn inform the features, the features are prioritised into development phases, and the phases inform the overall launch strategy. At the same time, we create a structure for the app and platform, choose the best monetisation strategy, and even move into interface design.
We always have fun running these sessions at the Leeds Digital Coffee Mornings – if you’d like to come along, it’s free and you can book a ticket here.
LightStart offers their proven process as part of their development lifecycle, as a standalone service – or via paid or free workshops. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or visit lightstart.eventbrite.co.uk to find an upcoming event near you.