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Say goodbye to the stress that comes with downtown parking!

Find, reserve and pay for guaranteed parking throughout the City of Pittsburgh with PathToPark.

Photo of Julianne Wilhelm
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Recent statistics show that two-thirds of the population will live in cities by 2050. 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to an additional 2.5 billion people crowding into metro areas. That’s a lot of people that need to move around, meaning there will be increasing amounts of automobile traffic, as well as a need to better manage growing demand for infrastructure. Parking is one part of the challenge, with a need to help drivers to quickly get to available spots, thereby alleviating potential congestion on streets.

PathToPark fights one of the main stress factors of daily life: parking in the city. Drivers go around in circles for hours in saturated areas, to find that ONE free spot. This mobile app solution addresses that demand, predicting zones where drivers are more likely to find parking and reserving off-street spots in real-time. The tool was developed for the benefit of urban motorists so that we can all appreciate our experience of “city living” even more. 

The app uses state-of-the-art predictive algorithms that process millions of transactions, history and trends coming from parking meters every day. This data is combined with geographical information in a ‘big data’ environment to develop and refine predictive models that put drivers in the right place at the right time.  The app offers guidance to both on and off-street parking.  If parking is congested on the street, the app suggests off-street parking in a lot or garage as a better alternative.

As a complement to real-time guidance, the PathToPark app offers a parking reservation component which is key to helping ease congestion on the streets.  If motorists know where they will park before they leave their homes, there will be less circling in search of parking.  

A key aspect of our solution is in the belief that the City itself should organize the platform so that City-owned and privately-owned parking facilities are represented on the app.   The app would be branded with the City’s Parking Authority logos, colors, etc, and private operators would need the Parking Authority’s approval to join the application.  

Why is this important? Because it gives the Parking Authority a way to help manage traffic congestion throughout the entire town and provide better communication about parking fees at each facility.  This is especially important during large events such as baseball games, football games, and concerts.

To make a reservation, motorists simply open the app to search for and compare real-time parking prices and locations. Upon purchase, motorists will receive a confirmation by email that will serve to guarantee entry to their selected location and provide additional details on how to use the service. Space will be set aside at the selected parking location to ensure that parking is guaranteed and hassle-free, even if the lot or garage otherwise reaches capacity. 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

The solution will be used by motorists driving into the City for a variety of reasons - sporting events, concerts, entertainment venues, shopping, the list goes on. Motorists can use the app to research and pre-book their parking at a specific location, guide themselves to available parking locations (on or off-street) or do both. The City’s Parking Authority will be the “face” of the application by facilitating relationships with local private parking lot/garage operators and allowing them to join the app to promote their facility. Other departments in the City can benefit from the data that the app will collect. This data can be used to better manage traffic throughout the downtown area.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user
  • Fully Scaled - you have already scaled your solution and are exploring new use cases

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

PathToPark was designed by a team of people who saw a need for the ever-increasing demand of city parking. This team branches from a key global player in the urban mobility sector, Flowbird. With parking systems controlling over 300 million parking spaces worldwide, Flowbird has access to considerable volumes of data regarding the habits of city drivers.

Size of your team or organization

  • 51-250

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Our plan for piloting the application is to select a few of the busier parking zones in Pittsburgh and study those zones to understand the parking regulations (e.g. are their blocks where parking is not allowed, are their specific time restrictions on parking, etc). Information we collect, along with other data such a payment information from the parking meters, is combined to setup the guidance solution. We will employ local application testers that will walk around the parking zones throughout the day with the goal of checking the app’s accuracy. First, the testers will utilize a web based tool that communicates whether a block face has many open spaces, some open spaces, or little to no open spaces. That data is fed to our data scientists team to ensure that accurate information is presented during actual parking guidance.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Key metrics for measuring success of the application are as follows: -User feedback and surveys (ease of use, general interest on the solution, etc.) -# of parking reservations made vs # of transactions made onsite at each parking facility -Comparison of speed of entry/exit into and out of the parking facilities by vehicles that reserved parking ahead of time vs vehicles paying onsite -Impact on traffic congestion before launch of the solution vs after launch of the solution The business model for the solution is to take a small percentage of the parking reservation fees. This way, Flowbird gets paid only when the solution is used. By working directly with the Parking Authority and local parking operators, we can ensure that a high number of parking facilities are represented on the app and make sure that it has high visibility throughout the City.


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Photo of Diana Avart

Hi Julianne,

Thanks so much for the submission. Please note that any additional updates or edits must be made by the Propose Phase deadline at 4:00pm EST.

- Diana, Facilitator

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