Make parking an ‘appy experience’

The future of parking is an integrated online portal directing drivers to the nearest or cheapest space in a matter of seconds


Developments in transport technology mean automated vehicles and smart cities are now starting to become a reality. But there is one area which remains behind the times – and that’s parking. Some 30 per cent of inner-city congestion is caused by vehicles looking for parking spaces, which accounts for 10 per cent of a vehicle’s CO2 emissions. This isn’t just environmentally damaging, but economically too; 60 per cent of drivers say they have abandoned activities because they couldn’t find a parking space.

With the technology that exists, it should be possible for drivers, whether business users or private individuals, to access information as they enter a city centre directing them to the nearest parking space, alerting them to prices, distance and availability, as well as letting them filter between off and on-street parking.

Developing this “last-meter navigation” would see a significant reduction in the amount of traffic in city centres, and make businesses and individuals much more productive. The average UK driver wastes 347 days and £37,000 in fuel in their lifetime trying to find somewhere to park, so there are huge benefits for both individuals and the businesses which employ them in developing a more efficient operation.

Part of the reason why such a solution does not yet exist is due to the fragmented nature of the UK parking market. Private providers have traditionally been unwilling to give transparent pricing information, while local councils are reluctant to share data in a format that could be accessed by anyone.

The average UK driver wastes 347 days and £37,000 in fuel in their lifetime trying to find somewhere to park

What is required is a fundamental change of mentality, which would see providers make data accessible to all in an open format, which could then be used to develop an intelligent mobility system with real-time information around all types of parking, such as car parks, on-street, disabled, electric, motorbike and loading bays.

AppyParking is the UK’s leading parking solution company and is creating such an ecosystem. Its free national app and website acts as a shop window for people looking for parking, showing any parking restrictions that apply, and directs drivers to the nearest or cheapest registered spot. Unlike other parking apps, it acts as a marketplace for paid-for locations, allowing drivers to pay any of the cashless parking providers.

And AppyParking is set on driving forward innovation in its sector. By supplying high-definition traffic management data to car manufacturers, vehicles can effectively become self-enforcing vehicles, telling owners if it’s parked illegally. This could also be used by private companies, which find themselves paying significant fines in busy city centres, as well as reducing time looking for spaces. In time, this could reduce the number of traffic wardens, and be used by councils and consumers to provide a fairer and more positive parking experience for all.

Last year AppyParking joined forces with Vodafone and Westminster City Council, and turned cars into sensors in a solution called One Click Parking™. Sharing a vehicle’s location means that automatic start-stop parking sessions occur, allowing drivers finally to experience near-frictionless parking.

“It’s as easy as getting an Uber,” says Dan Hubert, chief executive and founder of AppyParking. The trial was a world first and reduced parking times from 20 minutes to 30 seconds. The Department for Transport is now supporting the trial for a commercial rollout at the end of this year.

In short, AppyParking is building stepping stones towards a much bigger intelligent mobility system, which will homogenise the various parts into one connected-car, smart-city solution further down the line. Its work has already been recognised; earlier this year AppyParking was awarded the Parking Future Award at the British Parking Awards and it was voted the 15th most disruptive company in the world, among other prominent accolades.

The ultimate aim, though, is to create an integrated portal that would enable all parking providers to share real-time information with potential customers around parking availability, which requires a real cultural change in the industry. Only once this has happened can smart cities and autonomous vehicles become a reality, and parking can finally become a truly forgettable experience.

To find out more about AppyParking’s vision for the future of parking, please visit www.appyparking.com