An App for Outsmarting Meter Maids

As applications proliferate that take advantage of open data, it's becoming clear that some may be counterproductive for a city's bottom line. Take SpotAgent, for example, the new tool in the "technological arms race of urban parking."
February 22, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Emily Badger discusses SpotAgent - "the best parking app we've seen" - which was developed by computer programmers Shea Frederick and James Schaffer.

"SpotAgent uses real-time parking citation data from the city to calculate your risk of getting a ticket at any given location in Baltimore. The city’s data includes the date, time and a rough address (as well as license plate info) for every parking ticket handed out in the city in the past year. And new tickets typically appear in the database within just a few hours of landing on a windshield."

"Frederick and Schaffer use that data to calculate a threat score based upon the number of citations given out within 100 meters of your location. Tickets written around the same time of day, on the same day of the week, push the score up higher."

The app helps even the technological playing field in the cat and mouse game between parking scofflaws and tech-savvy meter maids. But does the city rue how its open data catalog is being put to use?

"[Frederick] laughs at the suggestion that the city might not love this use of its open data (Frederick was, by the way, instrumental in getting Baltimore to release this real-time parking information). But he says he’s never heard any gripes from the city government about the tool."

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Published on Thursday, February 21, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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