Parking

The Parking Douche App.

I want this app for the good old US of A. Why? Not because parking is an issue so much (even though there are plenty of jackwagons here that have no clue how to park their gas guzzling planet killing SUV’s and giant trucks). I want an app like this for all the other things I see like “Lets exit the freeway from the far left lane”, or “Yellow doesn’t mean get ready to stop, it means stomp on the gas and run that light”, or “I don’t need to stay in my lane while I’m texting and driving”. It would appear that this app had some effect on Russian drivers. Perhaps a similar app would have an effect on driving in America. Here is a quick fact for you. Less than 40% of American drivers use their turn signal, and it jumps to more than 60% when changing lanes. Yes we need an app like this.

The app was developed by the Russian newspaper “The Village”, and it works by using image recognition to identify the car, and social media like Facebook to shame the bad driver. All of this happens in real-time, and is proximity limited so you don’t end up spamming your Facebook friends in far away places. The image recognition component reads the plate number to find the driver,then allows you to shame them across banners and media placements on popular websites in Russia. What a  great example of how user created content is integrated into paid online media locations in real time.I really love the fact that the way you remove the annoying popup is to share the offender via social networking. It is a viral loop with hooks to the newspaper, and it is creating positive social action at the same time.

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The Mercedes-Benz Tweet Fleet. (my city needs this.)

Last evening when I was driving around Westport looking for a parking spot I wished I had some way of knowing where available spaces were. I had the same wish the day before on the Plaza which has turned into a giant valet parking zone. It seems Kansas City businesses like the idea of valet parking, and the city likes putting up tons of “No Parking” signs these days. If we only had the Mercedes-Benz Tweet Fleet in this town.

Mercedes cars equipped with a GPS unit, a modified Arduino board, wireless internet, and a camera are patrolling the streets of crowded German cities sending tweets about available parking spaces to smartphone owners everywhere. It’s a great idea. If we had it in my city I’d use it all the time.

By the way, I might have gotten my translation of the equipment wrong. I don’t speak German and I was using a speech to text translator on my phone to convert the dialog to English. German-speaking readers feel free to send me any corrections or additional info that I might have missed.

Obessesive Compulsive Parking Disorder.

I have a couple of rules that I apply to myself when it comes to work.

One. never eat at your desk. I think this is a great rule because it forces me to get up, I don’t force my coworkers to listen to me eating or invade their space with smells that I find appealing and they may not, and I have to get away from work for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

Two. Leave the building at lunch. I don’t care where I go or how long I am gone. I have to leave the building. This does a couple of things. It gets me some exercise. I get exposed to sun and fresh air. It clears my head, and recharges my creative juices.

Oh and if at all possible, I walk to when ever I can to get to my lunch destination. This isn’t a rule, it’s just a nice add-on.

The reason I am posting this is because of strange phenomenon that takes place at the building where I work. In my office location there are over 6000 employees. There are parking spaces for more than 8000, so there is no shortage of both covered, and uncovered parking.

So what is the phenomenon I am talking about then?

The phenomenon is this; there are people who leave the building at 11:00 AM and go to their car. They get in their car and drive from where ever they have parked and then sit idling at a stop sign waiting for a gate to one of the lots to open up. You see there is one specific underground lot that only has room for 1000 or so cars. And there is a group of individuals that covet these spots more than anything in the world. Some of them sit for as long as an hour and a half, with the engine running, waiting for a single driver to leave, just so they can get a spot in this lot. Seriously. I have witnessed this for the last 6 years. I have to say I think it is just sad.

There is a second phenomenon that I like to call “Parking lot vultures.” These people are less concerned with a specific lot. They just want to move their car a few feet closer to the door of the building. I call them “Vultures” because they spend an entire lunch hour circling the parking decks waiting for anyone closer to leave. Some of these people will wait until the closest spot opens up and then pounce on it.

Both groups are just sad as far as I am concerned. I keep thinking about the amount of life energy that they spend each day waiting for a lousy parking spot. The amount of money they spend. The wear and tear on their cars. The harm to the environment caused from the exhaust of their idling car. Seriously, what a waste of time and energy. If the average time spent circling and idling is 45 minutes a day, over the course of a year it equals 112.5 hours. (.45 X 5 X 50 = 112.5) That is 16 days. 16 days spent sitting in your car waiting for a better parking space. If I had 16 extra days in the year, I sure as hell wouldn’t spend it in my car waiting for a parking space. I have better things to do, and life is to damn short for that. (if I am in my car I want to be driving it)

Now before someone gets all up in arms and sends me a comment about how some people can’t walk long distances from the car to the office, or something along those lines; the maximum distance from the farthest parking spot to the farthest office is less than three blocks. And it is entirely possible to walk inside almost the entire way, even when you park in a surface lot. Although on a day like today I’m not sure why anyone would want to. It’s a beautiful 71 degrees and sunny out.