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NZTA hackathon winner signs up with commercial partner

NZTA hackathon winner signs up with commercial partner

The NZ Transport Agency is celebrating the success of its latest Hackathon, with the winning team selling its concept to a commercial company.

It means the ParkRite concept for addressing the abuse of disability parking spaces will be piloted and tested this year.

The Transport Agency’s Hackathon brings together volunteers with a variety of skills to collaborate, brainstorm and develop technology-driven transport solutions.

“We stress that our Hackathon participants retain ownership of the IP they create,”

says the Transport Agency’s Director of Connected Journey Solutions, Martin McMullan.

“Our role is to stimulate innovation in transport, by bringing people with ideas together with the people who can turn those ideas into solutions. We don’t have to own these things - we just want to see them happen, so ParkRite teaming up with Parkable is a great outcome.”

Parkable is a NZ app-based service that connects people looking for casual parking to individuals and businesses with a space to rent. So the ParkRite concept for addressing the abuse of mobility parking was right up their street.

“The team and I are excited that the concept will be piloted and we are passionate about the potential social impact it brings in the near future,” says ParkRite co-leader Christine Yip.

“Being customer driven is very important, that we are actually solving a problem. Now we have that key partner to actually make it happen.”

Using data from Wellington City Council across a two week period, ParkRite co-leader Scott Palmer found that 75 per cent of cars in mobility spaces were in and out in less than five minutes, and 66 per cent of cars stayed less than two minutes.

“Chances are the majority of those [drivers] just shouldn’t be there,” says Mr Palmer.

“Initially we came with a technical project, and then it became a project driving social change. We need to change the attitudes of people who abuse mobility parks.”

The team created a blend of hardware and software using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags which are embedded in mobility parking permits with sensors to detect when a parking space is in use.

If the vehicle is not entitled to be in the park a red light flashes, encouraging social accountability rather than enforcement.

Parkable CEO Toby Littin says “The accessibility community have some unique challenges around finding parks. We like to bring tech to [those] unique challenges and we want to do that in a way that drives an amazing parker experience. I think we can genuinely do our small part to assist.”

The Transport Agency has hosted two Hackathons in 2018. It plans another in March 2019 that will explore how to entice people out of their cars in our congested cities by reimagining how technology can enable more travel choices.

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