Getting to a destination is one thing, but finding parking is something else entirely, as anyone who has looked for a spot in any crowded city knows. Compared to finding a free space in midtown New York – or anywhere in Tel Aviv, for that matter – finding an alternate route to save a few minutes on a commute is child’s play.
So thought the judges at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, who presented Israeli start-up Anagog with the Best Mobile Innovation in Automotive Award for its crowdsourced parking solution.
“We are really excited to receive this award,” said Anagog CEO Ofer Tziperman. “The fast adoption of our mobility status technology by so many app developers from all over the world, gave us the opportunity to provide an exciting fast growing crowdsourced parking service.”
What Waze is to traffic, Anagog hopes to be for parking. Anagog provides access to what the company calls the “the largest parking network in the world,” with hundreds of millions of parking events. Users install apps which include Anagog’s technology (there are over a dozen in the Google Play store) to help them find parking, find their vehicles and even “find” their kids.
Anagog’s system uses location technology, mapping information and big data to help out with parking. Users run the app, with their GPS chip beaming their location. If its location changes every few seconds, a vehicle is obviously not parked; if stationary, it may be parked on a city street, a parking lot, or a driveway.
Matching up the last known location of a vehicle, along with maps (which indicate if the driver is at home or not), data about traffic, information on parking regulations, etc., the technology can figure out where there are open parking spaces at any given time, generating a map of those locations – or even directing drivers to an empty space.
Besides showing real-time data on currently available spaces, the app can also provide predictions on when a space will be available, based on a driver’s habits, local regulations and location. For example, if a driver parks at a certain spot on Sunday morning for a half hour at around 9 a.m, the app will keep an eye on the clock, alerting others in the area that a spot is likely to open up soon – and that if they are interested in parking there, they should navigate to the spot in order to “get into position.”
The system even knows enough to refer only a limited number of drivers to the same vacating space – with the algorithm performing a gentle balancing act between drivers who are closest, and those who have been seeking a space in an area the longest when it decides who is “space worthy.”
That technology can also be used for other things. For example, Anagog has an app that automatically detects where drivers parked and remembers the location. To return to the vehicle, drivers just run the app, and it will give step by step directions to the car’s location.
The company also produces a life-saving app – BabyMinder, which automatically detects when a driver parks their car and walks away from the vehicle. As they move away, the app sounds an alarm and a reminder to check the back seat. The user can set the app to remind them at a certain times of the day or at the end of every trip, thus ensuring that there is a backup reminder in case they miss the first one.
The app was released in July 2013, after a spate of incidents in Israel in which drivers forgot their sleeping infants and toddlers in the back seat of a vehicle – returning hours later to find them dead of heat stroke.