For those lucky students who have cars in this blistering winter, one of the few major difficulties is finding a parking space near their classroom building. However, this task is usually easier said than done — until now.
Ann Arbor residents Edward Vielmetti and Fred Posner recently came up with the idea to create real-time parking availability that can be accessed directly from any touch-tone phone.
Anyone can select a parking structure and instantly receive the approximate amount of spaces available in that area by calling the parking availability line at (734) 272-0909. It’s even possible to receive a call back from the operator when the structure selected has less than 10 spaces left.
“I walk past those parking structure signs everyday,” Vielmetti said. “I know that there are people who complain about not being able to find a place to park who have plenty of places for parking.”
Vielmetti said the initial thought came to him practically by chance, but it quickly turned into an interesting concept.
Since the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority already had a website that provided space availability, all Vielmetti had to do was create a way to access the website’s data from your phone.
Vielmetti said Posner was able to develop the phone service in less than a day.
And even though the service is already up and running, Vielmetti said their project is far from complete. They’re hoping to expand the idea to other forms of transportation, with the next step being real-time bus notifications.
“As soon as we built the phone thing for the parking structure, the bus thing just looks really obvious,” Vielmetti said.
This time of year, having information about the buses saves people time and allows them to stay warmer. Instead of having to wait outside for a long period of time or chase down a bus that is just pulling away, with Vielmetti’s new invention, people will be able to anticipate bus arrivals.
However, the website that provides real-time bus information hasn’t been working for over a month. Vielmetti said he and Posner are working with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to get the website running again so they can make the data accessible by phone.
If the conflicts can be sorted out, Vielmetti believes the service will be very beneficial and practical to local Ann Arbor residents and students alike.
Vielmetti said he wants the service to be something “people can depend upon, rely upon and is always right.”