Need someone to cuddle with? There’s an app for that.
Want to find the closest public bathroom or a vegan restaurant near you? There are apps for that too.
It seems these days there’s an app for just about anything. Hoboken resident Andrew Impastato figures, why not an app to help solve the parking dilemmas that have long beleaguered the city?
“Just being here, I know parking is a huge problem,” he said. “I’ve gotten tons of tickets. My wife has gotten tons of tickets…but [I think it’s clear it’s an issue] by just seeing the overall negativity that a lot of people deal with.”
Impastato estimated that he’s been ticketed thousands of times throughout his 8 years in Hoboken.
He will have a soft launch for “Parking Dude” on Friday, Dec. 18 with an official launch January 1. The app will be available for free on IOS devices and on Android devices by the end of January.
With a click of the app on your smart phone device, the “dude” provides a live grid of Hoboken on a virtual map with real-time parking availability, a breakdown of street cleaning times, and municipal laws that apply to any given spot.
The live grid, Impastato said, is contingent on the user-base the app is able to develop, with a goal to draw in as many drivers as possible during its first weeks.
Two weeks ago, Impastato met with Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s Chief of Staff Vijay Chowdhuri, City Spokesman Juan Melli, and a few others to present the app. Although they were impressed by it, Melli said, the city still needs to conduct a formal public bidding process to decide on a mobile application.
“I always wanted to start something in Hoboken and after talking with friends, who all visited here; I realized they always complained about parking.” – Andrew Impastato
Started with a basketball app
Impastato is a finance graduate from Case Western Reserve University –a private research university in Cleveland, Ohio – and former captain for the basketball team there. In 2010, his company developed the NextBasketWins app for legendary NBA shooting coach Dave Hopla. The app, which later went on to help the New York Knicks in 2012, laid the groundwork for Impastato’s company, NextBasketWins LLC., which is also behind Parking Dude.
The shooting app, which stores average shooting statistics and assists with shooting-related workouts, was successful and attested to the potential of Impastato’s programmers.
Three years ago with their help, namely programmer Chris Jennewein who holds a stake in Parking Dude, they began to work on the new app.
“I always wanted to start something in Hoboken and after talking with friends who all visited here I realized they always complained about parking. I thought, why not come up with a solution?” Impastato said.
In July 2014, 75 friends and family members tested the app, providing feedback on its tools and suggesting different features. Something, Impastato noted, shouldn’t be over simply because the initial testing phase is complete.
“In the settings you can provide your email,” he said. “Once we get things going, collecting data is the most valuable commodity. [Information like] where and when people are parking is important because we’re going to create a weekly and monthly newsletter to say what the parking trends are. We’re constantly trying to improve the app and need everyone’s help in order to get it really good and accurate.”
Value of working with the city
In the event of a partnership, the city would send information via the app of facets that affect day to day parking: where it plans to place temporary “No Parking” signs and roadway closures due to construction, flooding, or snow removal.
“I think from both ends it would be very advantageous to do that,” said Impastato.
He plans to push ahead with the app regardless of the city’s decision, although a non-official collaboration may present some obstacles.
“We’re hoping to win that bid and work with the city. They would help us push out marketing at places like the ferry, PATH, and terminal stations. [But] we’re launching no matter what,” he said.
The city is currently in the process of launching a “pay by plate” parking system wherein residents type their license plate numbers at the meters instead of leaving a ticket inside the car on the dashboard. The new system, which is still being tested, allows for drivers to pay for their meter by phone. No word if that system may integrate with the mobile application the city chooses, but Melli said, “The mobile parking application is not directly related to the pay by plate technology.”
Virtual tour…and down the line
Impastato said the app’s live grid won’t be up and running for the Dec. 18 launch, but will be available as of Jan. 1.
During a virtual tour, Impastato demonstrated how the app works. Upon opening it on your smart phone, a map of the city displays green pins at every parking spot. The pins are currently all green, since the app was not public at the time of the interview. Ultimately the pins would turn red when a Parking Dude user was parked at the spot. Theoretically, you would be able to check where a spot has opened up ahead of time instead of having to comb the streets for an opening.
By clicking a green pin, a list of information pops up with the parking spot with the address, street cleaning times and whether it’s residential/visitor.
Users may also opt to share their spot with a friend or relative with a click that automatically sets up an email, with the spot’s location and link to Google maps for directions in case the driver is not familiar with the area.
“My favorite part is the snow removal. I’m one of those people who don’t have time to shovel and I think people will definitely use that service,” said Impastato.
Two options toward the bottom of the screen allow for users to request snow shoveling or car wash services by typing in the make, model, and color of their car. The location of the car is already available to Parking Dude via the app.
Although the Parking Dude will instill various new features going forward like an alert when a parking spot opens up within a two-block radius of your home, during the initial launch it will provide a breakdown of every handicapped spot in the city, notifications when a parked car is located in a snow plow zone during a blizzard or flood, and send out an alert if your car is parked in a street cleaning zone the night before.
In an email, the city spokesman outlined some of the specifications the city is asking for in the submissions for potential mobile apps.
The app must be compatible with Apple IOS and Android technology and “ensure[s] that information is accurate and updated as needed to reflect any relevant changes to city code, as well as any real time updates to no parking zones and/or emergency routes.”
“The idea is start in Hoboken because it’s my hometown, and we want to find a solution for this problem or at least help people and prove that it works, and go from there,” Impastato said, noting he may expand to other parts of Hudson County and the country.
Steven Rodas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.