If you've ever found yourself driving in circles looking for a parking space in the absurdly congested streets of London, AppyParking is for you.
Fire up the app and you're presented with a colour-coded map showing you exactly what parking is available where – from electric charging stations to disabled and motorbike bays. It'll even flag up free parking depending on the time of day and take account of parking restrictions around events.
It all started with a show, explains AppyParking founder Dan Hubert. "I was going to a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, and there were literally miles of single yellow line with no-one was parked on it; all the paid bays were taken. So I asked a passing traffic warden if I could park on the single yellows, and he said, 'Yes, after 6:30'. There was a sign about two streets down; which is not very handy."
London's streets are cluttered with such arcane parking restrictions; some streets sit empty while others are clogged with cars looking for a space. The solution was seemingly obvious; create an app that overlaid parking data on a map.
Unfortunately, while municipal data for services like public transport is freely available for developers to use, there isn't any such one-stop shop for parking information. "When I started ringing up councils, they said, "Ooh, we haven't got anything digitised, we've got some old maps with dust on them, and some PDFs buried within the archives of the parking website," says Hubert.
He ended up trawling through the databases of 33 different boroughs, before drawing in the zones on his app. "I was going out on the streets, looking on Google Street View, compiling this database. I did 13 boroughs to start with. I met Enric then, my co-founder, and he put all these zones into an app called Yellow Line Parking."
Yellow Line Parking became AppyParking, and new features were added as Hubert found more ways that drivers' lives could be made easier – pointing them to everything from disabled bays to motorbike parking and electric vehicle charge points. The app's already won an award from Ford for helping to relieve congestion – "We can stop cars aimlessly driving around residential zones looking for parking," Hubert says – and now it's been accepted onto the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program for nurturing start-ups.
"In the week that we've been on it, it's already been immensely useful," says Hubert. "We're surrounded by industry gurus and leaders and mentors, and other start-ups going through the growing pains of a teenager – working out everything from who our customer is to user experience."
Hopefully AppyParking has a long road ahead of it – we'd like to see it expand to other cities and make some more drivers 'appy.
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