by Nick Jones & Red Davis

What we made

An app for showing crowd sourced city centre car park availability levels.

Bath City Parking iPhone app

Why we made it

Without descending into the city’s narrow streets, it is impossible to predict and understand how busy car parks are likely to be.  Given that no realtime data on parking levels were made available, we built an iPhone application to crowdsource the information directly from the drivers themselves.  A realtime dashboard for the current car parking levels was developed to give the council a graphical overview of the current situation.

Bath City Parking dashboard (demo)

The tourist dashboard project also highlighted car parking as a drawback to people visiting Bath as a city.

How we made it

We wrote the iPhone application natively, using Objective-C.  The dashboard was developed using Mapbox, Javascript and web sockets.  The API backing both of these systems was written in Ruby on Rails with a Postgres datastore.

What was hard about it

There were a number of difficult portions:

  • Extracting useful information from the datasets provided
  • Developing an algorithm for simplifying the user feedback down into: low, medium and high.

How we’d improve the datasets

To improve the datasets, I’d make sure there wasn’t a catch-all field containing HTML of “additional information”.  I’d move the charges, charge times, postcode, etc, out into semantic XML elements for easy reading by a program.

If we had more time or further investment

If investment was made into this project we would:

  • Polish off the iPhone and make improvements to the user experience
  • Improve the “closest car park” algorithm to factor in user feedback
  • Use historic data to predict busy car parks and direct users accordingly

Resources

Dashboard: bathhacked-parking.herokuapp.com
Pitch Deck: speakerdeck.com/punkstar/bath-city-parking-reporter-bath-hacked-2014

Team

Web Development: Nick Jones (Technical Director at Meanbee) @nickj89
iOS Development: Red Davis (iOS Developer) @reddavis

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