A Massachusetts company is aiming to take the grunt work and frustration out of looking for a parking space.
SpotScout is a service that incorporates mobile phones, online parking searches, and PayPal. It will depend on the cooperation and good graces of garage owners and drivers themselves, who are notoriously territorial and competitive when it comes to finding—and keeping—parking spots. Use the company’s website to find a parking spot near where you have to go, then pay to reserve it. Once you’ve reserved that spot, it should be yours to park in, provided that the person on the other end does his job.
A test run will begin this spring in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Drivers who have Web-enabled mobile phones will be able to access the system, make reservations, and pay for them through PayPal accounts or online credit card processing. That process currently lets out a huge chunk of the driving population, but SpotScout execs say that their service will be vastly improved by the time that a majority of the population can use their mobiles to surf. (It’s possible to use a PC or a laptop to find a parking spot, of course, but your chances of securing that spot are probably directly proportional to how far away you are when you start dashing away from your stationary surfing spot.)
SpotScout faces competition from some more traditional communication-based companies, including one that does the same thing only with live phone operators and one that allows RFID tag payment.
How many parking garages and businesses that own parking lots will sign on to this service remains to be seen. The ultimate arbiter of success might very well be the consumer, who might be inclined to get a technological leg up on that at times most pressing of battles: the parking spot duel.