If you're a big city driver, you know the story: You spend 15 minutes hunting for a parking spot and another 5 hunting for enough change to put in the meter. You leave the restaurant only to find that you have a ticket because the spot you parked in is illegal every third Tuesday when the moon is full. Had enough? We have, so we decided to do something about it.

The problem

You're driving in an area you don't know, you're running late, and you have no idea where to park. Sound familiar? We think this is a frustration technology could help solve, so we decided to design a solution. As usual, we based our design on a persona. Christine and her husband live in an urban Chicago neighborhood. Like most city drivers, Christine has a number of frustrations related to parking:

  • Hunting for parking spaces
  • Paying for an expensive garage only to find an empty metered spot around the corner
  • Getting tickets when she can't remember which streets in her neighborhood get cleaned on which nights
  • Having to remember when her meter expires
  • Not being able to find a spot that feels safe when she's alone at night
  • Stockpiling quarters in her cup holder

Christine's Goals:

  • Save time and money
  • Avoid "stupid" tickets
  • Minimize stress

The solution

Parking Angel is an add-on option integrated with Christine's GPS navigation system. It helps Christine by:

  • Showing her open spaces close to her destination
  • Only showing spaces within her time, cost, or distance parameters
  • Sending her an email, SMS, or voice message when it's time to move the car
  • Letting her pay electronically, so she can use her cup holder for more important things (like her morning coffee)

The scenario

Parking Angel's technology infrastructure combines data feeds from parking garages with monitoring of city streets to identify available spaces in real time. Christine and her husband are heading into Chicago's Loop to have lunch with friends at La Cantina. When Christine starts up the car, the Parking Angel system shows the car parked in front of 5420 S. Blackstone, Chicago.

The Parking Angel's interface is designed to look safe, smart and friendly. The visual design integrates seamlessly with the car dashboard.

Parking Angel Screen

Christine presses the "talk" button, which mutes the radio and tells Parking Angel to accept voice commands. She says "La Cantina," which the system recognizes as 800 North Dearborn. The navigation system displays a map of the route to the address including the start and end points. Christine could type in the address if her car did not have a voice recognition system.

Parking Angel Screen

The system assists her with turn-by-turn maps and navigation instructions. When she gets within a quarter mile of La Cantina, Parking Angel turns down the radio and asks how long she needs to park. Christine presses the "talk" button and says, "Two hours."

Parking Angel Screen

Parking Angel directs her to a cluster of spots a few blocks from her destination. It's cold outside, so Christine has Parking Angel prioritize proximity over cost.

Parking Angel Screen

As she approaches, Parking Angel alerts her that a closer spot has opened up just around the corner, so it directs her to turn left instead.

Parking Angel Screen

Christine parks the car. Parking Angel shows that she can park in this spot for a maximum of two hours, and that she will be charged a quarter for every ten minutes. She clicks the "pay" button and heads off to lunch, able to relax because she doesn't have to watch the time.

Parking Angel Screen

The after-lunch conversation is winding down when a text alert on her cell phone tells Christine that she needs to move the car in ten minutes.

Christine and her husband say goodbye and return to the car, secure in the knowledge that their guardian Parking Angel has everything taken care of.