A number of mobile apps have emerged as of late attempting to curtail the perpetual civic issue of parking in Boston. If you’ve ever, even once, tried to find a street spot to park your vehicle, you know exactly how frustrating it can be. And while some have proven to be more successful than others at this stage of the game, perhaps the latest trend is trying to launch a viable parking solution per neighborhood instead of citywide.
ParkWise North End embodies that sentiment, as you can probably deduce by its name alone. The app is made specifically for the North End, which is arguably the most difficult neighborhood in the entire city to park in.
The North End is Boston’s oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood and its narrow streets and dense housing lend credence to that fact. The roadways are barely equipped enough to handle moving vehicles and pedestrian traffic, let alone parked vehicles that, in many cases, reduce the width of a given street by as much as half.
ParkWise North End is one local resident’s attempt to locate legitimate parking spots while playing by the rules outlined by the city.
According to the neighborhood newsletter North End Waterfront, creator Alex Shvartz built the app after getting fed up with circling the neighborhood for as long as 30 minutes looking for a place to park.
“Even when he managed to squeeze his car into a spot, he realized that street cleaning was coming the following morning and the street would need to be clear by 8 a.m.,” North End Waterfront notes.
Using his own time and money, as well as some assistance from an outside developer, Shvartz came up with ParkWise North End, which not only notifies a user of an open spot and soon-to-be open spot, but also when street cleanings take place and of any restrictions due to the innumerable feasts and events that take place within the community.
The app, free to download on iOS and Android devices, uses a map interface that lets prospective parkers know when someone will soon be vacating a spot, when a spot is actually free, it’ll erase a spot from viewing once it’s been occupied. And for those who sometimes are unable to recall where they left their car, the app will relay that information back to the user.
BostInno reached out to ParkWise North End but nobody was immediately available to respond.
Parking apps have sprung up plentifully as of late, the most notable one being Haystack. One of the first to try and dip a toe in the parking solution pool, Haystack launched in Boston only to have its operations come to a halt at the behest of City Hall. Haystack, argued Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration and agreed upon by City Hall, allows users to profiteer off public entities.
“The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is constantly in communication with civic entrepreneurs, offering feedback and support on ideas that aim to improve Boston,” Gabrielle Farrell, spokeswoman for the City of Boston told BostInno. “The ParkWise North End application is one among the many innovative applications that has come to our attention, and the City of Boston looks forward to working with the developers as they continue to create the features of their parking app.”
Some parking apps have received more positive feedback from municipal officials, however, showing that there’s still some room for a solution to grow within city regulations. SPOT Parking, for example, likens its platform to Airbnb in that it users can rent out privately owned parking spaces for any given length of time. Unlike the case with Haystack, SPOT brass has piqued the interest of City Hall, which has expressed interest in supporting it.
Similarly named Spotlight Parking is more of a valet service for which users can summon valet personnel in certain areas of the city in real-time to park their cars for them. Spotlight has also engaged in talks with City Hall about the legitimacy of the app, as well as local business owners, to continue vetting out a way to make a more efficient experience for people to park their vehicles.
Screenshot via ParkWise North End