Finding a free parking spot can be a tricky thing, especially in bigger cities. Sometimes you ride in circles for half an hour to find an empty spot and right when you already saw it, there was this lucky guy who saw it first and parked seconds before you.
My idea is an application that gives you an opportunity to not waste your time and reserve an ideal parking spot before you head to the city center.
How it would work?
The user would choose to enter the app as a USER or a MIDDLEMAN (earning mode).
If entered as a USER, a person would choose a city, the desired area and would get a map of parking spots. It would choose the most adequate "free" parking spot (green color). Another option would be to check parking spots that will soon become empty (within an hour, marked yellow or within 2 hours, marked orange). Red spots would be taken. When user chooses a parking spot, it would be given an option to reserve it. By clicking reserve, it would be asked to choose the time of arrival to the parking. The price would be calculated based on the time from reservation to arrival (0.15 EUR/min). Also, the user would be asked to set the "departure time". If the user chooses this and leaves at the set time, it would get 30% money back for the next reservation. On the other hand, if the user doesn't leave at the departure time, fee of 1 euro would apply for every 10 mins. That way, respected users would get awarded and the other penalized.
If entered as a MIDDLEMAN, user would get an option to act as an Uber for parkings. The main role of the middleman would be to accept reservation requests in the area and park at the reservation spot until the user comes. It could be done by the autonomous company cars (example 1, example 2, example 3), Uber drivers or anybody else registered in earning mode. The company would compensate for the parking tickets of the middlemans. Middlemans would be paid according to the job done.
Update: The middleman option could be replaced by the parking lock system (read below in the Discussion)
You would be able to:
choose the city (starting local)
Search through all the parking areas and check the availability (using live satellite imaging for open-air parking and live status for empty garage spots)
see all information about prices and charging times for the specific location
reserve desired parking spots for a certain fee to make sure your parking waits for you
set the "departure time" to allow people to use your parking spot when you leave and earn credits
The app would help people not waste time looking for free parking spots in the city center. You could search for a spot in a specific part of the city and reserve it if needed.
Another benefit could be the parking itself. You could set the "departure time" and get your spot reserved. That way, you would get 100% money back in the favor of saving a spot for someone else, who would then pay for the parking.
How to make sure a reserved spot remains empty until the user arrives?
How could the app fund itself?
Discussion: The concept of the middleman vs. the lock system
Since human hours cost a lot and a middleman option require a lot of car always moving around ready to park at the reserved spot, @Darko Savic, @Povilas S and @Shubhankar Kulkarni proposed to use the lock system. The agreement would be sign with the private companies (private parking) and local governing company (public parking) to instal and maintain automatic locks on certain parking spots. These lock would "lock" the reserved parking spot and that way save a spot for the user that reserved it. The lock system could be more convenient since the only cost is the installation and maintenance of the locks (compared to continuously appearing costs when using drivers).
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you have any other idea how the app could be sustainable?
Can it somehow be developed as an independent app, or it would function better like an Uber add-on?
The greatest problem I see, more so during the early phases is parking at the reserved spots by users who do not use the app. This may be the reason why such an app, if exists, is not popular.
One way to solve it is, initially, until the app is popular and most drivers use it, that the app company rents parking spaces for their users. These rented places may be public spots or a proportion of spots of the private parkings (malls, multiplexes, offices, etc.). These spots need to be physically marked "for app users".
Spook LouwSep 22, 2021
I think your model will work fine, I'm simply suggesting another way one could approach this service.
Instead of reserving a parking spot, users can pay membership fees to gain access to certain parking spots. Depending on the size of the company's client base, they simply need to "reserve" enough parking at prime locations to ensure that their clientele has a good chance of finding a spot. For instance, if they have 100 people who make use of the service in a town, having 10 bays available exclusively for clients at popular destinations should be enough, as all 100 are unlikely to go to the same place at the same time.
This would still be an attractive option for customers because instead of having to compete for a spot against thousands of others, they are only competing with 99 other drivers. If there are 10 spots available, you'd only be "competing" with about 10 other people, meaning your chances of finding parking would be a lot more.
The company would either rent the spaces from the businesses who own the parking lots, or, if the business is a success, they might point out that a business that does not have "membership parking" might lose out to another one that does.
By doing it this way, there would be a lot less admin and moving parts, you'd simply pay for membership and gain access to all "members-only parking". These lots can be reserved through gates or simply by allocating security to make sure that no one else makes use of them. One would also have to ensure that members aren't using these spots as permanent parking, effectively taking away one spot from the rest of the members.
Reserving way ahead of time should not be allowed
Shubhankar KulkarniSep 21, 2021
First of all, great idea, @Juran! Parking is a common problem. Aren't there any other apps that help with parking?
To avoid the problems you mentioned in the session text, I think reserving a spot way ahead of time should not be allowed. I think an hour is sufficient. This way, the users who want to book and sublet to others will have to renew their reservations every hour (more frequently), and this will probably discourage them from pursuing it.
Also, if users are allowed to book in advance, they may reserve the spot without concrete traveling plans. "An hour" is a smaller window and may reduce spam or "no-show" bookings.
Users who book and do not show up should be warned and penalized
Shubhankar KulkarniSep 21, 2021
Reserving a spot and not showing up should be discouraged. When the user does not show up the first few times, they can be sent a warning. If the behavior persists, they may be blacklisted and charged more for the reservations until it improves.
Or, all users should be charged a greater fee during reservation. When the user shows up, half the amount should be refunded. If a user does not show up, they lose the refund. I think this is simpler than managing a blacklist.
Not leaving on provided departure time should be penalized
Shubhankar KulkarniSep 21, 2021
This is, again, for better management. If the app is supposed to show parking spots for users available at their pre-specified time, the app needs to know when the previous vehicle will leave the spot. Parking overtime, therefore, needs to be avoided.
One way to avoid it is by charging the user more during reservation and then refunding some amount if they depart before the provided time. No refunds will be given to users who park overtime.
Also, the users who had reserved but did not get the spot because the previous user parked overtime should be provided a nearby spot immediately. The nearby spot should be near (within 100 meters or so) of the reserved spot. If no other nearby spot is available, the user should be refunded and provided 1 free booking that can be used later.