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When it comes to helping drivers, there’s no shortage of in-car technology from GPS navigation to collision-warning systems. But now start-ups are tackling a perennial source of frustration — finding a parking space.
With the parking industry worth $25 billion (£16.2 billion) a year in the United States and more than twice that in western Europe, it’s hardly any surprise that high-tech firms are scrambling to come up with clever ways to make the process quicker and easier.
In Britain, JustPark provides a mobile app that enables users to rent people’s private parking spaces.
When it comes to the United States, SpotHero and ParkWhiz allow users to find paid parking areas or book places in advance. German carmaker BMW has been trialling a similar service called ParkNow.
Israeli companies are taking a different approach to the problem: predicting where parking spaces can be found based on mobile data analytics. Anagog, a Tel Aviv-based firm, has developed an app that can guide drivers to empty on-street parking using real-time, crowd-sourced data from mobile phones, similar to what another Israeli app, Waze, has successfully done with navigation. Waze was bought by Google in 2013 for $1 billion. The software learns personal behaviour and knows whether a user is getting into a car or starting to drive away, freeing up a place. The company said it has built up a network of tens of millions of drivers who contribute millions of parking events daily.
The technology is already attracting attention from the industry, including ParkNow, which recognizes that its parking solutions are based on advanced planning rather than predicting or knowing when a space will open up.
Joachim Hauser, the director of mobility services at BMW, which has also backed JustPark, said mobile intelligence had implications for the auto industry and mobile service providers beyond finding a parking space, making it particularly attractive.
Israeli company, ParkLife, takes a similar approach to Anagog but uses a statistical model and mapping data to direct drivers to the best area to find on-street parking.