Nick Capizzani, a 23-year-old Chicago native, was on a date night with his girlfriend when he thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was an app that told you where all the parking spaces were and how much they cost?"
This month, he launched the San Francisco Parking app, fresh off the success of his Chicago version. The iPhone app, soon to be available on Droid phones too, is a one stop parking shop.
It details the location and price for every parking garage. All 300 of them. It also shows you where all 20,000-plus parking meters are located.
For a $1.99 download fee, users can search the hourly, daily, monthly and early-bird rates for public parking garages.
Users can quickly compare prices and head to the parking garage with the best deal. The app also scours Craigslist for available spaces.
Another feature-which works well for the forgetful--is a parking meter timer that reminds you when you need to feed the meter. And there's a "find my car" feature for those nights when you just can't seem to remember where to direct your designated driver. Note: if you're too drunk to remember where your car is, you obviously should not be driving.
But, like most first generation technology, there are some kinks to work out. The application sometimes has trouble directing the driver to the actual entrance of the parking garage. When we put it to the test, driving from our San Francisco bureau to the Ellis O'Farrell garage, we needed to make a couple extra turns in order to find the entrance on Ellis, instead of the address on O'Farrell that the app took us to.
The application took Capizzani about four months to create. Capizzani is busy traveling all over the country talking to companies so he can improve his application and expand it. Next up: San Diego for the Comic-Con convention, then LA and New York.
Capizzani says he thought he'd be working a "9-5 job" after graduation. When he found out Apple approved his app, and he saw it in the App store, he says, "I was really excited. This is a dream come true. When I did Chicago, I didn't know if it would take off."
Soon the parking app will have a street sweeping schedule and a real time BART schedule to let users know which transit lots have available spaces.