CAPE TOWN – A new smartphone app seeks to take the frustration out of finding available parking in the city centre.
Last week, Street Parking Solutions, which manages street parking in the Cape Town CBD, unveiled its ParkFind app, which its developers say has been two years in the making, according to Street Parking Solutions owner Zunaid Loghdey.
Now motorists will be able to pay for their parking through the app – available on Android and iPhone handsets – or, if they prefer, to a parking marshal. Loghdey said the app was one of three in the world, and part of Cape Town’s strategy to become a smart city.
“This was a smart-city product,” he said. “We were the first city in Africa, and one of three in the world that installed vehicle-detection sensors in every parking bay. That was the first smart city product. The aim of it was to eventually introduce this parking app.”
He added that there were plans to take the app to other major centres in South Africa, but that it was predicated on the installation of the vehicle-detection sensors in parking bays. At this stage, he said, the Cape Town CBD was the only area in the country with these sensors already in place – about 3000 of them, networked via Vodacom.
Loghdey said up to 40 percent of traffic congestion in any business district was due to “cruising”, where motorists drove round the block and waited for available parking spots.
“This technology will take you to an available spot without you having to cruise,” he explained. “It’s a congestion buster and a CO2 buster, and it’s also a massive time-saving application.
“I started working with vehicle-detection sensors in 2006,” said Loghdey, “and this app was the logical progression. The digitisation has allowed for these efficiencies.”
He said the proliferation and acceptance of demand-focused smartphone applications had made taking the leap on to the new platform so much easier.
No jobs lost
Loghdey said in the process of moving over to the smartphone app none of the parking marshals, dotted across the CBD with their orange bibs, would lose their jobs.
“We have not cut the parking marshal out of this thing. The parking marshal is intrinsically woven into this solution.”
In the past, he and his company have been in the news for their labour disputes – in one instance calling in the notorious Red Ants to prevent protesting marshals from intimidating their colleagues.