When Sir Francis Bacon first penned the phrase 'knowledge is power' in the late 1500s, we can be fairly certain -- given horses were still the preferred method of transport -- he wasn't talking about the wonders of data-driven parking guidance.
And yet, though he could never have predicted it, these words could not be more relevant to parking, especially in its current transformational state, more than 400 years later.
What he did know, was regardless of field or focus, the more knowledge we have; the more information we can draw from and consider in any given situation, the more likely it is we can produce accurate insights and better results.
At Easy Park, we live and work by Bacon's philosophy that knowledge is power.
But we believe true power, especially in business, comes from the sharing of knowledge and the building of systems based on this knowledge.
Strap yourself in as we jump behind the wheel and take you on a journey into the data we collect and analyse to create our Find and Park service.
Fine-tuning the vehicle for 'Find and Park' delivery
When Google Maps Street View was first released, there was a special kind of magic in searching for a location, changing view and suddenly finding yourself among the bustling back alleys of Tokyo, or on the red dust, outback roads of Australia.
For many users, it was the first time they considered the idea that platforms of this nature aren't developed just by clever people who sit behind desks, but also rely on a significant cast of dedicated workers in the field.
Since the 2007 Street View release, technology has advanced, and even in just that decade, the way we use data has become so much more sophisticated and the sheer volume of it available to us absolutely boggles the brain.
Despite the progress, the fact remains, platforms like this rely on a careful collaboration between those who design and code and construct algorithms and those who deliver the data and information that power them.
Find and Park – the feature within our app that efficiently delivers drivers right to available spaces on street or in parking garages at any given moment -- is no exception.
With more than 100,000 hours of research and development, €10 million in spend, and 500 researchers driving through cities around the globe, we are truly invested in providing accurate data to revolutionise the way parking in your city works.
Start your engines: beginning the data-driven parking journey
In creating a feature like Find and Park, we first needed to confront the fact there is an absolute abundance of data available if you are prepared to locate it and collect it.
Ensuring enough data is collated to create a whole picture -- a comprehensive, practical and real-time guide to parking efficiently -- is what really underpins this program of changing parking as a process and as a business.
With an army of researchers, our app was built on thousands of hours of driving and research, in addition to the more technical aspects of development. Our committed team:
• charted streets in more than 30 countries
• documented parking restriction information
• noted challenges and conditions
• travelled the equivalent of the circumference of the globe!
Using powerful technology, we combined their records with insights into behaviour and traffic conditions gained from their experience on the roads at various points in each day.
We added into the mix, data from cooperating cities and real-time information from our own transactions and traffic sensors among other sources.
This initial collection of all this data formed the robust foundation for Find and Park.
Putting quality assurance in the driver's seat
Something we have always been incredibly cognisant of is the data we collect is only as useful as it is accurate.
To ensure the efficacy of our app, we need to be sure the data we rely on -- the data you and drivers rely on -- is correct.
An important part of our process, both in the beginning and always, is quality assurance.
We work to design data collection mechanisms, both machine-based and human-based, that offer us the most comprehensive and correct data, and we test and confirm that data using a variety of methods.
This helps us set measurable benchmarks so we can confirm, for instance, we have 90% accuracy in street colours shown on maps, and 99% accuracy in parking restriction information.
We know our users hold us responsible for the data we provide to get them from A to B, but no one holds us more accountable than we hold ourselves.
Fuelling opportunities for future growth: data for now and for later
Alone, much of the data we collect could be useful.
But the true magic of the Find and Park app lies in the algorithm that brings all of the data together, considering how any one piece might affect another, to form one, comprehensive, practical and useful resource.
Essentially, it takes all the pieces of the puzzle and combines them to give us a big picture, supported by a lot of useful detail.
But that's not where it ends.
Ours is a self-learning algorithm.
It is the prophet that Bacon was not, using the knowledge it has learned to make predictions of parking availability.
Our Find and Park algorithm collects data of drivers as they use the app, always working to better understand their experiences and behaviours so it can continuously improve the guidance it provides and the predictions it makes.
The more users we have, the more knowledge it collects and the more powerful our solution can become.
For parking garage owners, this means, by drawing on our work and our app, your business can become more efficient and effective over time.
Our knowledge is your power
In our case, having all the knowledge in the world is not of benefit to us if it is not also of benefit to you, as business owners and as Find and Park users.
Fortunately, we also collect data to inform us of the positive and powerful effects our app has on drivers, businesses and cities.
Most excitingly, we now know Find and Park cuts down the time spent looking for parking by up to 50%. Effectively, we are giving our users back half of the time they would have spent driving around, feeling frustrated and missing out on more fulfilling experiences.
We also know it is making it easier for parking garages to reach optimal occupancy levels, and it is bridging the communication gap between driver and garage.
On a broader scale, our data shows us that Find and Park has the potential for even more far-reaching effects, such as decreasing pollution levels and increasing safety on the roads.
Find and Park brings together and synthesises more data than most of our users could imagine, to provide parking power through knowledge!