Courtesy of Aneta Ivanova

How many times have you apologized this way, when you were late for a meeting: “Sorry, I’m late…  I couldn’t find a place to park”?

The worst part is around 25% of your longterm fuel consumption will be due to parking spot searching!

True, worst than fighting traffic in a big city  is the fight to find a free space to park! The good news? A bench of Silicon Valley startups, car makers and local governments are taking care of that; let’s get an overview on where they are:

1.  Startups – They represent most of the innovation in this stream and focus on two type of parking assistance systems

Systems to find parking spaces!

The technology is based on sensors attached to every parking spot. Through a Smartphone application, users can find the nearest empty place to park. Basically their system provides services ranging from real-time availability and hands-free voice navigation system to toggle between availability and price. Additional access to rates, hours and time limits, search by points of interest or guidance back to your car give the user a impressive line of options.

Startups plan to create the biggest network of sensors. VoicePark, a bay area winner with 20,000 sensors installed (out of 28,000 total in SF) and growing nationally. Competitors include Streetline with 7000 and 6000 sensors  in SF and LA, respectively, an the startup ParkAssist.

Systems to manage your parking’s fines!

Using their Smartphone application, users can remotely manage and pay their parking bills on a minute-to-minute basis, which enable them to save a non-negligible amount of money. This niche includes startups like QuickPay, ParkNow or their French equivalent and Renault-incubated startup TelePark.

2. Car Companies – Most car companies don’t have the relevant capital or time investment necessary to build a sophisticated and reliable sensors’ network for parking spots. For early stage startups, car dealerships and manufacturers can later offer assistance in this ambitious mission! Below are the notable carmakers who are getting involved in the trend:

  • Audi decided to partner with Inrix and enjoy their private parking network to inform onboard Audi system users where to find the nearest parking with an empty space (when information available).
  • Renault is mentoring the startup Apila, to integrate on their Rlink platform, the driver community system. The peer-to-peer exchange takes place through Smartphone application. 

3. Governments – Already heavily involved in the movement, local governments invest money and resources in pilot projects like ITS California in San Francisco with the SFPark project. In San Mateo where authorities contracted Streetline and Cisco to install about 150 Systems downtown, drivers are already beginning to find parking spots with a less stress.