If you've ever been in a rush to see a show in downtown Pittsburgh but can't find a parking space, the free, real-time smartphone application ParkPGH might be able to help.
ParkPGH was awarded the National Transportation Award on Monday. The app provides parking information for 25% of the garages downtown. It calculates the number of open parking spaces in the Cultural District every 30 seconds and delivers the locations to users.
Scott Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), the group that gives the award, said he would like to see the service grow beyond the Cultural District. "I think they've had very great success with it so far and I think there's a desire to expand it all over the city," said Belcher. "Part of the reason we award this is to promote it and publicize it so that other cities will learn about it and try to take the application into their cities."
Belcher said ParkPGH is the first "smart" parking system to utilize predictive parking, where the app uses historical parking trends and current events, such as football games and plays, to forecast available parking from minutes to hours into the future.
He said ParkPGH fits ITSA's purpose of using technology to solve transportation problems. "We see technology and applications as being cost-effective ways of giving people mobile choice and giving people the opportunity to make smart decisions about transportation," said Belcher. "We do this award largely to try to drive demand, try to make sure that you know what's available and know what you can expect and should expect of your transportation providers and your elected officials."
ParkPGH currently has 10 parking lots transmitting information, monitoring over 5,300 spaces downtown.