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Phones Alert Drivers If They’ll Get A Parking Ticket When They Skip Out On Paying

SpotAgent allows people in this city to decide whether or not to feed the meter or risk penalty by using parking citation data.

Betsy Mead
Betsy Mead on February 28, 2013.

Baltimore dwellers are in luck–they may have a helping hand when it comes to figuring out whether to pay for metered parking. If their iPhones are equipped with SpotAgent, a recently released app that utilizes data from city inhabitants to assess the risk of skimping on costs, the decision will be a snap.

The app is the brainchild of Shea Frederick and James Schaeffer, both of whom work with in the Baltimore tech scene. Frederick said that he first conceived of the platform when he plowed through the city’s parking citation rolls and observed an upsurge in meter-maid activity in the mornings, between 8am and 8.30am. It seemed that frenzied urbanites thought they would have enough time to grab a quick cup of joe without the need to feed the meter, but instead were caught out by smart ticket inspectors.

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The city of Baltimore has records over the past year of licence plate, date, time and address for where unlucky owners were caught cheating, which is continually kept in check since new infringements are logged in less than a day of occurring.

Frederick and Schaeffer set about creating an app to figure out the risk of being slipped a ticket by making use of data in the public domain that reveals where and when drivers are most likely to fall prey to inspectors. The app will calculate a “threat score” for the area at that point in time. They noted that there were particular parts of town patrolled more heavily, and certain times at which urbanites were more likely to receive punishment for their momentary transgression.

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Frederick said to the Atlantic

You know how it is when you go to a meter. You think ‘I’m going to be here an hour. Hopefully if I’m over 5-10 minutes that I’m not paying for, I can get away with…But if it’s a red threat level, I’ll put in extra money.”

Denizens of Baltimore can make a purchase on the iTunes store. Just remember to pay when you duck out for your morning cup.

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