Downtown May Get Parking App

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Having trouble finding a parking spot downtown? There’s (going to be) an app for that.

Members of the Technology and Communications Committee Tuesday got a sneak preview of a smartphone application that is in the works to help drivers navigate parking in downtown Raleigh.

The parking app will provide drivers with directions to the parking deck or lot nearest to their downtown destination. The app will then save the car’s location for later retrieval and offer walking directions from the parking space to the intended destination.

A screenshot of the North Hills app, which offers parking assistance as well as store and event information.

A screenshot of the North Hills app, which offers parking assistance as well as store and event information.

The app will also give parking rate information and calculate how much will be owed on the way out.

Additional features could include road closure notifications and alternate route suggestions, event information, merchant specials and tourism information.

The app is being created by a team of Raleigh residents consisting of developer Eric Majewicz and partners Leo Suarez, Jim Belt and King White of the Downtown Living Advocates. The concept won the 2013 NC DataPalooza.

Majewicz is also the owner of Oak City Apps, which is responsible for the RGreenway app and North Hills parking app. Like the RGreenway and North Hills apps, this parking app would be free for users to download.

Who Owns It?
Tech Committee members wondered about the city’s involvement with the app and which entity would be responsible.

Because the app will direct drivers to private and city-owned parking, the city would be receiving some economic benefit and should have some input in its development, staff said, but they were unsure what role to play.

“We’re not sure where it really sits,” said Transportation Operations Manager Mike Kennon.

The app started with a parking focus, but quickly become more than that.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord, who also serves at North Hills General Manager, said the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) would be the best group to own the app, because it would represent all benefited parties, including the city, business owners and visitors.

DRA Director David Diaz said he wants to convene a focus group that would guide the features to be included in the app. While an exact cost hasn’t been determined, Diaz anticipates between $20,000 and $50,000.

“We think this is going to be a great benefit for downtown,” said Diaz, adding that downtown is primarily an employment center with thousands of government employees.

Members of the committee recommended that Councilors allocate $5,000 seed money to get the app off the ground and asked that city staff be included in the stakeholder group. The DRA would be responsible for coming up with the rest of the funding for the project.

The full Council will vote on the funding at its next meeting in August.

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