A smart parking service tackling congestion in one of London’s busiest boroughs
In many parts of major cities like London, parking is a daily struggle. It’s estimated that nearly six out of ten drivers have abandoned their search for space at least once, and more than a quarter have gotten into an argument with a fellow motorist over a parking space. Even when you do find a space, it can be difficult to decipher the street signage – this creates anxiety for drivers and increases the likelihood of being fined for an illegally parked car.
GoPark is a service with an accompanying app that seeks to address these two core parking pain points – finding a space and understanding the various rules so that you can park legally. GoPark does this by understanding the user’s needs, the car’s position and ignition status (i.e. driving or parked) and live parking rules.
Looking for solutions, meeting challenges
We took an experimental approach, collaborating with Ford and the London borough of Islington, to test our prototypes in context with actual residents. To identify the best service solution for them, we had to consider a broad range of factors: the needs of the drivers we were designing for, the technological and data challenges as well as the task of condensing dense parking rules into bite-size pieces – and delivering them without distracting the driver.
We worked hand-in-hand with Livework studio, our service design partner, to investigate these challenges. Our process included a number of resident interviews, ride-alongs and community workshops. This process shed light on key areas of action that our app should address. In terms of surmounting technical and design challenges, we followed ustwo’s usual principle of quick experimentation and prototyping around hypothesis. We created quick interactive web prototypes of possible solutions that we tested with users in context, as well as experimenting with mapping solutions using throwaway code, on both iOS and Android platforms.
Found solution, built it
Can I park here now?
Insight, not raw data, is a key design principle for all ustwo projects, and GoPark is no exception. When a driver parks, they can find out with a glance whether or not they can park in that space. Let’s say you’re driving down a one-way street, looking for a space and anxious about making your next meeting on time. You find a space, pull in and immediately you can check whether you’re good to stay and park there. No stress and no jumping out of the car looking for the parking rules…
To make parking rules easy to understand, our app does all the interpretation of the rules for the user. GoPark knows where you are, where your car is, who you are (well, what permit you have) and when you are using the app or in the act of parking your car. With that information, it delivers a simple green for yes or red for no.
Further detail informs the driver when the parking space expires and how much it’ll cost if it is a paid space. A calendar view gives the driver an overview of their eligibility over the whole week.
Can I park there in future?
What if the driver wants to plan ahead? The app gives the driver a simple way of searching for any bay within Islington and at any point in the future to see whether they are eligible to park there at that time.
Spacefinder – which parking space is available?
GoPark is able to predict which parking spaces are likely to have empty bays. Enter an address and the time you wish to park, either now or in the future, and using a clever algorithm, GoPark will present you with the three most likely parking bays closest to your destination – genius!
Can I use this whilst driving?
Mobile devices should not be used while driving, but our design is appropriate for in-vehicle use while parked. The flash of colour and larger icons make the communication more readable, while the stripped-back interactions simplify and make it easy to use.
It’s early days, and our experiment had a deliberately limited scope, but we’re already seeing very encouraging results including a strong online debate with articles on Wired and FastCo and a great response from Ford – with CEO Mark Fields making an announcement at the Mobile World Conference. Moreover, we’ve seen a meaningful impact among users. All those interviewed had a positive experience and one told us it had already saved them from a fine. It’s slowly starting to do its thing.
We believe GoPark marks the beginning of services that integrate connected vehicles and the city in new and meaningful ways.
It is both a singular product and a systemic tool, helping residents to reduce fines, use less driving time looking for spaces and – at the same time – easing congestion and pollution problems.
As an organisation, we plan to continue making a difference in urban mobility. If you are looking to solve problems in the auto or mobility space, contact us email@example.com