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Drexel Seniors Work to Alleviate Parking Headache in Major Cities

May 8, 2013

Hot Spot parking team

Jonathan Davis graduates this June with a bachelor’s in engineering, a minor in business and a start-up that’s already got investors excited. Davis tells DrexelNow about Hot Spot Parking, his effort to alleviate the troubles caused by parking in cities around the country.

While on co-op at the Philadelphia International Airport, Davis participated in a competition that focused on how the airport can save money. Initially motivated by the prize money—“$1,000 is a lot for a college student,” he said—he began assessing efficiency around the airport, including how electricity is used, believing that cutting back on power usage would be an easy and effective way to save money. Throughout the competition, he started to notice a bigger threat to efficiency: parking.

Davis explains that the city of Philadelphia’s attempt to solve the parking problem—kiosks that accept cash and credit cards in addition to quarters—is insufficient. The kiosks are faulty, occasionally out of order or shut down, and the parking receipts create waste and litter. The confusing kiosks, poor parking availability and the notoriously difficult Philadelphia Parking Authority render the city a less-desirable destination for tourists.

According to Davis (pictured above, second from left), parking is a simple problem to fix with the right tools, and so he set out to develop those tools last summer. He began working with fellow engineering students (pictured above, from left) Niteesh Prasad, Dakota Davis and Diego Pinate to develop Hot Spot Parking—technology that would streamline parking for both city governments and residents.

Davis said Hot Spot is an “autonomous management system for parking, similar to EZ Pass.” With Hot Spot, drivers do not have to interact with kiosks or parking meters when parking. They simply place a transponder in their cars; the transponder is connected to the driver’s credit card, which is automatically charged the appropriate parking costs when the driver returns to his or her vehicle. There is also a real-time available on-street parking map accessible through a smartphone app.

Davis said he plans to pilot the program in smaller cities and has been talking with people in cities like West Chester and Newark to accomplish this. He expects to have a prototype completed in the coming weeks, and will roll out the program shortly thereafter.

A recent visit to the Angel Venture Fair exhibit has generated a lot of excitement among potential investors. Davis has plans to meet with a number of investors in the coming weeks—a sign that the company is headed in the right direction and a testament to how badly cities crave a solution to common parking problems.

Davis is currently asking fellow students, Drexel staff and city residents to take part in a short, anonymous survey by following this link: http://goo.gl/pAaZQ

For more information on the company, click here.