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ParkRoulette – calculate the chance of getting a parking ticket before you take the risk…or insure it

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It’s amazing what you can do with technology if the right amount of data is available to you, and a couple of enterprising folk in San Francisco have gone and produced a rather delicious online service which proves the fact perfectly. If their idea starts a trend, we could see an interesting tussle begin between techies and the parking system in cities everywhere.

ParkRoulette lets you calculate the chances that you will get a ticket if you park in any particular spot in San Francisco. The service is limited to that fine city at the moment, because that’s the dataset they’re using, but it’s clear that the developers have much bigger ambitions if the idea takes off.

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The service works by analyzing a publicly available dataset of issued parking tickets for the city, which includes over 3 million tickets spread over 2.5 years. This data is then mapped alongside known historical parking attendant routes, together with geographical information on a grid. Yes it’s incredibly nerdy.

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So does it work? Well the service has literally just opened its doors, so we’re going to need time to see if all these stats give a good enough base to let people ‘game’ the system. And as the developers freely admit, there are a number of variables and imponderables which could make the whole thing less than totally perfect. Plus of course the fact that the authorities will also have access to the same site, and so could very well make adjustments to foil the statistics.

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Whatever the result, we’re going to have to applaud yet another example of man’s ingenuity in trying to overcome significantly important issues in our society, instead of just coughing up the penalty when caught being naughty. You want to know the really clever bit?

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The service also offers something called ParkRoulette Insurance. When you park riskily, you can contact them and get an insurance quote for parking there. If you park and get away with it, you pay the insurance premium on your credit card. If you get a ticket, take a photo of it and send the image to ParkRoulette and they will pay the fine immediately.

Yeah, brilliant right?

Oh yeah, we forgot to mention. Neither of the developers has a car. Like we said, delicious.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


1 Comment

  • Nice.
    Now I’m looking forward to an adaptation that will tell me what the chances are of getting caught without a ticket on my train journey. Is that worth the fine (bearing in mind that the penalties in the UK are really heavy, but here in the Netherlands it might well be worth risking it)?

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