Google has developed something like an Android social network for parking spots. Called “Open Spot,” it relies on people rather than sensors or other sophisticated technology to locate parking spots that are being vacated.
Open Spot users indicate when they’re leaving a spot. The phone’s location awareness indicates that person’s location on the map and shows that information to other Open Spot users in the area.
Spots remain open for a maximum of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes parking spots expire. Color-coding indicates how long they’ve been open and the probability that they’re still open.
The FAQs explain:
- Red pins are freshly-marked spots.
- Orange pins are spots marked over 5 minutes ago.
- Yellow pins are spots marked over 10 minutes ago.
Users gain (parking) Karma points for their participation.
Google has already developed a name for those who might try to fool the system and frustrate others: “Griefers”:
We call these people ‘griefers’. We’re watching for behavior that looks like a griefer spoofing parking spots. We have a couple of mechanisms available to make sure someone can’t leave a bunch of fake parking spots. If we see this happening we will take steps to fix it.
Available parking “inventory” is created by users as they participate in the network. As more people use the system it will become more valuable and helpful. If it succeeds, you can probably also expect the data eventually to show up elsewhere in Google — Maps for example.
Separately Google also released a tool, “App Inventor,” that makes it possible for people without programming skills to build Android apps through a visual, drag and drop interface. It’s not clear however whether something like Open Spot could come out of that tool.
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