AppyParking is more than just another parking app. It’s all about Big Data with Big Detail and fits strategically within the connected car, smart city revolution. AppyParking has revolutionised the UK parking industry by consolidating the fragmented public and private sector by creating a standardised data set that understands every possible rule, restriction and tariff regardless of what kind of driver you are.
This free public service in the form of app, website and API saves motorists time, stress, money and parking tickets while dramatically increasing productivity. Hack & Craft caught up with Dan Hubert, the Founder of AppyParking.
Dan Hubert, founder of AppyParking is on a Smart City mission to make parking a truly forgettable experience. His ambition to create frictionless multi modal journeys has earned AppyParking the recent accolade of the 15th most disruptive company in the world. By creating a connected car platform bridging mapping, data, IoT and payments, drivers can gain complete choice and peace of mind about any destination. This saves drivers time, money and saves cities from congestion and pollution.
What inspired you to design the AppyParking app?
The idea came about when I was trying to park outside the Royal Albert Hall to go to a gig. The parking bays were all full and restricted until 10pm. There were miles of empty single yellow lines but everyone was too scared to park on them. I asked a passing traffic warden for some advice and he said it was fine to park after 6.30pm and that the Controlled Parking Zone time plate was two roads down!? Not ideal! It was then that I thought something had to be done about this awful lack of communication between council and drivers.
Were there any issues with AppyParking from a hardware perspective?
AppyParking is a software and data company that provides a platform for the public and private sector to manage and create a digital infrastructure layer over the existing road network. Although hardware is not our thing we do work with sensor and IoT manufactures to develop and advance solutions ready for scalable smart cities. From an R&D perspective there are always teething problems but our partnership with hardware suppliers has now resulted in some really exciting and robust solutions.
On your website you introduce a “free plug in” device that is connected to the car and also the infrastructure on the field including wireless parking sensors from Nwave. Who installed those sensors to allow the innovative parking solution?
We’re sensor agnostic so it really depends on how technologically-equipped the vehicle or streets are already.
To make your vehicle connected to the internet there are some very affordable dongles that simply plug into the dashboard. The M2M dongle essentially is a telematics tool and some larger fleet have them installed already for. For the large amount of smaller fleets and regular drivers who don’t have telematics, then we can supply the self-install dongle.If cities need real-time sensors on the streets then we work with the manufacture and organise a team of contractors to deploy them.
Parallel to the iOS app there is also an online web solution available. Can you tell us what the process looked like to design an app which displays such a great amount of important information on such a small screen?
It’s incredibly challenging to display such a huge amount of data and make it meaningful. It’s not like a train app and hotel app where there is a fairly limited amount of points you need to get across. We’re dealing with bank holidays, on-street, off-street, parking suspensions, match days, paid bays, residents bays, real-time, multi-tiered pricing… the list goes on.
AppyParking is currently in its third design iteration and every release offers new insights when it goes out into the real world. There are endless rules and restrictions depending on what type of driver you are so just when you think you’ve created a template that can handle the worst case scenario of information you realise the design is going to break.
What people don’t see from the outside is that the app is about 5% of our focus as it’s not our core business. It’s been a fine balance of giving the app the right amount time and love while not getting too distracted. Luckily we’re expanding the team this year so real processes and testing will be put in place to ensure we deliver best possible experience.
How were different information batches and flows broken down into multiple steps and groups to make it clear to the user what to concentrate on?
Right now we address this problem by allowing drivers to choose what bays they would like to see at the start of the app journey. This is a simple fix but in the next phase of development I’d like to offer users real ‘tunnel vision’ so they only get to see the information they want to see without any distraction. The more we get to know the drivers profile they more tailored we can make the experience.
Where did you seek inspiration from for the user flows (how to find a parking sport, how to pay for the spot etc.) and also where did the look of the app come from?
I looked around at all the parking apps on the market and analysed them for their strengths and weaknesses. I also looked at travel and mapping app such as CityMapper, AirBnB and Google. The look came from a desire to make sure we stood out amongst the competition and made it memorable. Parking is a very boring and dull part of someone’s day so I wanted to add a little bit of personality.
What innovative new features and functionalities have been added since the launch of the app and how do you develop new features and how they get integrated into the running environment?
Right now we’ve just been focusing on our back end platform so it can provide the most detailed and up to date information giving drivers complete choice and peace of mind about any destination. So the next app release will utilise the power of this big data with big detail for make parking a forgettable experience.
One of the newer features offered is One Click parking which was developed to allow autonomous vehicles to drive off and park themselves. Can you tell us more about this and how this is reflected in the design of the app?
Our parking platform bridges the gap between mapping data, IoT and payments. The result of these three factors working in harmony is One Clicking Parking™ which is the world’s first frictionless pay-as-you-go parking experience using connected car technology. The driver simply drives into an available bay and confirms the vehicle’s location with a single click. To end the session the driver pulls out of the bay and an email receipt is sent charging only for the minutes parked.
In the FAQs it says you also provide an API support. How many different apps are using their data?
We provide our API to a dozen app and web services as well as several global car manufacturers.
What makes your app better than competitors’ like Parkopedia Parking, RingGo Parking, PayByPhone Parking, Just Park etc.?
All these companies offer siloed and fragmented solutions in a world where data and services need to more holistic in order to create greater impact on congestion and pollution. AppyParking is an agnostic platform and I see all these companies as complementary rather than competitor.
What are your plans for the future of the app?
As I’ve mentioned previously the app is only a small shop window into what we’re really about. The future of AppyParking will see us offer a product suite of services and data that will disappear into the vehicle’s dashboard. The more forgettable that I can make parking the more I’ve done my job.