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Looking for a Parking Space in Downtown? There’s Almost an App for That

Written By Scott Joseph On October 20, 2010

Well, here’s a go

od idea that didn’t go far enough.

The Orlando Downtown Development Board has launched a free app in iTunes and Android Market for parking in downtown Orlando. Parking is Parkinalways a problem — or a perceived problem. There are plenty of parking spaces, mostly in multi-story garages, but too many people don’t know where they are, or how to access them. Or how to exit them — pay now; pay later? The confusion keeps a lot of people from patronizing downtown businesses.

So I was excited when I saw the announcement for Orlando parkIN’, described in iTunes as a “mobile tool to help Downtown Orlando patrons locate information about parking in Downtown Orlando including pricing and locations.” I downloaded that sucker to my iPhone right away.

The app has lots of lovely pictures of myriad parking centers in downtown Orlando. And it has information about the cost of parking. And it has the location (although clicking on Google Maps will take you away from the app). That’s all well and good if you’re sitting at home on a Friday night and say, “Hey, honey, let’s hop in the car and drive to the Lincoln Plaza Garage. The app will show you what it looks like, the cost (actually most of them are a range, $2-$15 hourly for Lincoln Plaza; not so helpful) and the number of spaces it has.

But most people don’t make a parking garage their destination. They’re more likely to say, “Hey, honey, let’s hop in the car and go have dinner at Kres,” or any of the dozens of other restaurants and entertainment businesses that would love for you to visit. That’s when you say, “But where should we park?” Unfortunately the app doesn’t work that way. And that’s a shame, because that would be really useful. Just call up the list of downtown businesses — the DDB has all those names — click on the restaurant you want to visit, and, voila, you’re shown the ideal parking place.

It would also be nice to have GPS capability so that if you’re driving around looking for a place you could pull over and consult the app for turn-by-turn directions to the nearest parking facility. More accurate pricing info would be nice, too. And would it be so difficult to enable parking garage attendants to update the site when a garage is full?

And how about after parking the car being able to enter in the location? And cashless payment when leaving?

But you know what would make a really killer app? One that shows the location of the parking meter attendants so you can sprint ahead before they give you a ticket for your expired meter. It was a nice idea, DDB; some things to think about for the upgrade.


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