Mobile App Development for Urban Parking

Mobile App Development for Urban Parking
Jul 01

Mobile App Development for Urban Parking

The number of cars in big cities continues to increase, while a number of urban parkings remains unchanged. That’s a reason why drivers usually have a hell of a time searching for a free parking spot. But what if it is a matter of life and death to find a free parking spot when you are in a hurry to work or are late for an important meeting?

Fortunately, with the help of modern IT technologies, we can solve this problem. All we have to do is to have some kind of an assistant that will help us to deal with this issue. Yes, we need to develop a car parking mobile app.

In this article we’ll try to show what is behind the curtain of a parking mobile app development, consider settings of top competitors on the app market and all the benefits that drivers receive from using such kind of applications.

But first, let us think, what problems come to mind when we are talking about urban parking?

  • Parking location. If you live in a big city, finding a parking can really drag. This is, may be, the biggest headache drivers have ever faced. «Where can I park my car?» — the same question appears in mind. Confusing signs on the road, incomprehensible symbols on the map, etc. As a result, wasted time and no result.
  • Parking Rules. Each urban parking has its own rules. The whole essence of the problem is that you won’t know them until you get to that particular parking. Let us describe the situation. 6 a.m.,
  • Saturday. You and your family have bought tickets on a train in order to go on a small vacation. The only thing left to do is to find a place where you can park your car. Ok, here is parking near the station, but the problem is — it opens at 7 a.m., not at 6 a.m. An uncomfortable situation, doesn’t it?
  • Tickets. Remember the last time you took the ticket for the parking. We’re pretty sure that this was another headache for you. There is not enough just to find a spot, pay-machine will also charge 1 hour when you need only 15–20 minutes. Add to that the bad mood of the meter maid and your day will be spoiled for sure.

So, how can parking mobile app help us to cope with all these challenges?


The main idea of parking mobile apps is that they leave only two components in equation — the driver and a parking spot. App, in turn, undertakes all other steps, such as search, booking, etc.

According to this concept, developers try to introduce more and more useful features to the application, to simplify parking process as much as it is possible.

At the moment, one can find dozens of different parking applications on the market. They are mostly successful and each app has its defined set of functions. Generally, there are three types of sets developers implement in these applications:

  • Navigation set.
  • Navigation + booking set.
  • Complete service set.

Of course, the functions of one set may be found in another, there are no restrictions. Such categorization just helps us to better navigate in this theme. Let us look at the 1st set.

Navigation Set

In short, the key functions of navigation set are:

  • — map of existing parking lots
  • — navigation mode to help the driver get to the selected parking location
  • — search for the nearby parking by GPS coordinates
  • +extra: shows available spots' amount (if parking is equipped with a counter)

According to this mode, parking application turns into some kind of a navigation device or an urban parking guide for a driver. Working as parking guide, the app shows all parking addresses with their working hours and the number of free spots at the moment (requires web connection).

Chicago Parking App is a good example of this setting. This app allows managing your entire parking experience from a smartphone. It allows paying, extending and managing a parking session. The perks of ParkChicago include:

  • Receiving notifications when parking session time is low
  • Extending parking session through the app
  • Receiving email receipts at the end of parking session
  • Managing parking history through the mobile app

As for advantages and disadvantages of the app, ParkChicago is a free app, but if you use it for parking under 2 hours you’re charged a so-called ‘convenience fee’ of 35 cents. A user has to enter credit card number, license plate number and the right zone number manually in a new place where the car is parked. The advantages parking app are that it is a pay-by-phone and that is allows extending your stay from wherever you are, reducing the chance of getting a ticket.

As for navigation setting, mobile parking app shows not just all parking spots on the map but it also paves a route to the parking spots in real time (App can use Google Maps for it). Another important function is finding the nearest convenient place to park. The application itself finds the most convenient and closest parking to you (in a given boundaries on the map) and paves the route to it. For those who have no time to read the map, app can offer voice navigation.

Voice Park App is such example. VoicePark provides hands-free turn-by-turn guidance to the closest real-time available parking spot, on-street and/or off-street. VoicePark is a multi-feed platform using real-time data from on-street sensors, off-street parking availability, and predictive analytics. The advantage of VoicePark app is that it guides drivers and autonomous vehicles to the closest available parking spot to your destination in real-time. VoicePark offers off-street (garage or lot) parking to over 5 million spots in 40 cities in the US and Canada.

But what do we have to do if every spot on the every parking is booked at the moment? The parking application can also be useful.
For example, BestParking app keeps tracking of all the parking spots and when any spot opens, app immediately notifies the driver about it. SpotHero, Park Me, ParkWhiz — all these apps can be set as examples here.

Navigation & Booking Set

The key functions of this set are:

  • booking a parking for specified time
  • adding extra time
  • saving checks and payment history
  • navigating back to the parked car
  • reminders that parking time is about to be over

This setting lets us forget about booking tickets. We don’t have to walk around looking for a parking meter on the urban parking. Drivers don’t have to run at top speed to get to the parking spot before meter maid will charge their car for an extra parking time. Now mobile parking app does it all for us.

Parking applications give us an opportunity to book a parking spot beforehand. For example, you decide to go to the movie. You can open the parking app, find a handy spot and book it. At the same time, you can also pay for the parking right from the app.

An excellent example of parking search app development is Phone and Pay app, which was developed by Archer Software. We developed a mobile payment app for parking that can be useful for those who have a tight schedule (or who can’t simply keep track of everything). Application tracks time and reminds how much time is left before the ticket time expiration. Thanks to this setting driver will always know what does he pay for and how much time does he really need.

As for first startups in parking payment app development we cannot fail to emphasize Japanese project called Ecopa. Parking app development company added an interesting feature to an application. Every parking spot was equipped with set of a sensors and cameras. This allowed driver to see what place is currently free on the parking.

When the driver makes payment through the application, system automatically records his car number to the database. And when car appears in front of the parking spot, Ecopa’s sensors scan the number plate and gives the opportunity to park only for those who made payment. Also, Ecopa is equipped with a smart system that locks your spot if someone (who didn’t make any payment) tries to enter the parking spot.

Complete Service Set

This parking apps category is very interesting regarding the point of the parking service implementation. It should be noted that the implementation of such kind of project will be more expensive than the previous ones, but revenue can be much higher. What is the peculiarity of such parking mobile apps? Here you do not need even to look for a parking and wait for a free spot.

User downloads an app, registers, selects a convenient time and place, and leaves an order. In turn, the app sends service info about staff member who will come at a specified time to a specified place to pick up user’s car. This service actually works. What is more, after an hour or two (the length of the booked «parking time») from the moment man picked drivers car up, driver will get his car back in the same place.

Just imagine, you need to pay only $5–6 per hour in order to get a personal parking (with driver) no matter where you are and no matter what time is it now. Of course, one can say it is unsafe to give a car to a stranger, but according to users’ feedback on the apps market, such services operate reliably.

In addition to that, in the very beginning, you receive a photo and all the info about your «service driver» so you know exactly to whom you gave a car. An example of such parking service can be app called Luxe Valet.

Parking Spot Finding App Development — What to Keep in Mind

The parking finder app development process depends on the features your car parking mobile app will have. The optimal solution must involve

  • development of intuitive and user friendly UX, which allows fast parking payment in just a few clicks as the driver has to watch the road and not the numerous screens and fields
  • integration of parking spots APIs in order to monitor available spaces and to make payments if necessary
  • timely updates of parking lots information — if the information is outdated or it doesn’t cover the city in full, nobody will use such an app

As for an app MVP — it is heavily tied to the functions embedded. For example, for a parking spots map, navigation and payment it must include backend and database, payment system integration for making payments (without the counter of available spaces), administrator panel for entering or editing parking spaces and two mobile apps.

This set will take about 150 hours of design; 700 hours of mobile app development (each) including testing phase, management phase, etc.; 300 hours for admin panel development, and 800 hours of backend development. So, as a rough guide it will take 2650 hours at average rate $40/h. That is a complete app including all necessary features for parking search, booking and payment will cost you around $100k.

And One More

Of course, there are many other custom features that developers can put into parking mobile apps, but the main thing we need to focus on while developing a mobile parking app is: cross platform, the ability to navigate and book tickets right from the app. All these ideas are present in our cashless mobile parking payment app Phone and Pay that is available both on iOs and Android. With this app, we did our best and as a result built a product that makes parking process as simple as it is possible.

Our main goal with this project was to understand what do actually drivers want and need and on this basis we made the most convenient application. Phone and Pay is more than 6 years on the mobile apps market and during that time app gained a wide audience of fans. In case if you want to build a mobile parking app from scratch you need to hire those specialists who already have an experience in this area. So if you are interested in the IT-mobile solutions we can offer for business, contact us and our managers will give comprehensive answers about development prices and all its possible costs.

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