ParkWise is a mobile application that streamlines the process of locating available free and paid street parking, reducing time and frustration as well as the likelihood of parking violations for drivers, in urban cities, particularly Downtown Vancouver.
How might we develop a user-friendly solution that provides real-time information on available free and paid parking spots, that drivers can easily locate and legally park their vehicles, reducing the time and frustration associated with parking in Downtown Vancouver and its environs?
Parking difficulties are a common and widespread issue, especially in densely populated urban areas like Downtown Vancouver. Many people, both residents and visitors, experience the frustration of finding parking in Downtown Vancouver. Drivers have reported spending a significant amount of time driving around their destination trying to find parking causing them to be late to engagements - as they may end up parking some blocks away from their destination- as well as increase the chances of violating parking regulations. The process of trying to find parking can be time-consuming and frustrating as there is no current way of simplifying the process of finding available free and street parking in Downtown Vancouver for drivers.
Our target demographic includes Downtown Vancouver residents, as well as new drivers, tourists, and newcomers. Expansion to other urban cities is planned due to the universality of parking challenges.
User Pain Points
Using online surveys, we identified that 100% of respondents expressed frustration while searching for parking. The biggest pain point reported was the time spent looking for parking. We did 3 customer interviews, and we found that drivers usually spend on average 15 minutes searching for parking.
Additionally, 10% of the survey respondents expressed uncertainty about the legality of their chosen spots due to complex parking signs.
Currently, no tools are available to assist drivers in locating available free and paid street parking spots in Downtown Vancouver. Our research revealed that 33% of survey respondents and 100% of interviewees rely on a trial-and-error approach to find parking.
Our preliminary user research to validate this problem with drivers who visit Downtown Vancouver found that finding available free and paid street parking in Downtown Vancouver is a problem. Users expressed the need for a solution that provides information on available parking spots that comply with parking regulations would be very valuable in Downtown Vancouver and its environs.
50% of survey respondents expressed interest in signing up to receive updates by providing their contact information in the form of emails or phone numbers
Landing on the Solution
Based on our target users’ paint points, we knew we wanted to work on the following features:
- Simplified Parking Search feature allowing users enter their destination and receive live updates on available free and paid parking spots close to their destination. Users can select a parking spot of their choice and users would be able to seamlessly open the selected location into Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze so they can be directed to that location. Hands-free notifications are triggered as users approach their destination or if another available parking spot is available closer. This feature directly addresses the core problem of simplifying the parking search process, making it more efficient for users.
- Personalized Parking Profile feature which allows users to store information about their car, permits and licences so that available parking spots can be suggested based on the information provided. Users would be able to manage their frequently visited locations by being able to save frequently visited locations and associated parking spots and receive suggestions for frequently visited spots. Personalization enhances the user experience by providing tailored parking suggestions, taking into account individual vehicle details and permits.
- Advance Parking Notifications feature allows users to know in advance if there are parking spots available at their destination. This feature helps users plan their trips more effectively, reducing uncertainty and frustration associated with parking availability.
- Parking Time Management feature allows users to keep track of their parking time limit. Users can record their parking start time and enter details of their parking time limit and receive notifications when their parking time time limit approaches (~10 minutes left) prompting them to consider re-parking where re-metering is unavailable. Users can also get recommendations about nearby free and available paid street parking spots if they need to re-park. This feature addresses a common concern for drivers and helps them manage their parking time effectively, reducing the risk of violations.
- Safety Notifications and Reporting feature allows users to receive safety alerts in parking areas and have the ability to report safety issues so that they can stay informed about safety conditions, enabling them to make informed decisions on where to park. This feature is important as safety is a critical aspect of the parking experience, and this feature empowers users to share and access information that can enhance their security.
Explanation of Solution
After we showcased our prototype to users, we aim to develop a user-friendly platform that empowers drivers to easily locate free and paid street parking near their destination through real-time information. Users can create personalised profiles to receive tailored parking suggestions.
From speaking to customers, we learned that this is a problem in other urban cities other than Downtown Vancouver. Thus, there is the possibility of potential expansion to support drivers in urban cities outside of Downtown Vancouver.
Possible additional features we can include in future versions of ParkWise:
- Incorporating a navigation feature within the app to provide users with a seamless experience, eliminating the need to switch between multiple apps. This integration ensures that both navigation and parking solutions are conveniently available within a single app.
- Explore the option of offering the app as an iOS App Clip.
- Automatically input parking time limits based on local regulations.
- Enable information sharing among users.
- Explore the possibility of integrating payment services within the app to offer users a convenient method for paying for parking, thus enhancing the overall parking experience
Product Manager Learnings:
The DTTPPM program proved to be a compelling journey, pushing me beyond my comfort zone and equipping me with invaluable skills crucial for my career in product management. The Co.lab and Atila mentorship sessions were particularly enriching, providing me with the opportunity to actively engage in the hands-on development of not just one, but two products.
A key takeaway was the emphasis on the problem space over the solution space, stressing the significance of understanding users' pain points to ensure the creation of a valuable product. I gained insights into effective prioritization, the art of defining metrics for MVP development, and the importance of direct user interaction for constructive feedback and iterative improvements.
The program highlighted the value of engaging with users, delving into their challenges, and understanding their goals (i.e., the jobs to be done). This user-centric approach emerged as a guiding principle for successful product development and growth.
In retrospect, this experience holds immense value, and I will always cherish it as a pivotal milestone in my professional journey.