Administrators, faculty members and students have always wanted their campuses to build more parking lots. This is due to the soaring parking problems that have come as a result of the increased number of individuals in campus who own vehicles. As they were growing up, many students were used to the culture of being chauffeured all over the place. However, this changed when they got old enough to drive. A recent survey found out that out of the 10 students that were interviewed, 7 of them acknowledged of owning a car. Furthermore, they admitted to driving these cars to and within campus for that matter. Actually, many of them owned up to driving from dormitories to their classes which were just a few meters away (five minute walk).
PROBLEMS WITH CAMPUS PARKING LOTS
A space to park is an extremely vital issue for any automobile user. Since a large number of students are now owners of automobiles, the issue becomes an integral part of their plight in campus due to the fact that they (in one way or the other) affect their overall wellbeing in the various universities. The parking problem has gotten even more severe due to the increasing number of admissions to universities (Farrell, 2003). Many of these new and hefty numbers of students have cars. The parking standoff has led to an amplified congestion in the campuses. Students spend a lot of time when looking for a place to park, thus contributing to time wastage. These frustrations have also had a negative psychological effect on the students. It causes a lot of anxiety and negative emotions in the students as they struggle to get a place to park. These challenges negatively impact their academic achievements as well. This is the reason why you sometimes find cars parked in the “no parking zone(s)”. Parking in these prohibited areas correspondingly leads to congestion since those who want to drive around while looking for a place to park cannot find a free moving area. These frustrated individuals are forced to park anywhere in a rush to avoid being late for their classes, risking huge parking violation fines. It is interesting to note that some universities even sale out parking passes that exceed the parking spots, adding to the whole problem.
USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Back in the days before the invention of the social media, is unlikely for people to be aware about the activities their friends were undertaking at a particular time (Farrell, 2003). The coming of the social networks (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) has made it possible for us to know when someone is in a parking lot, playing a game or simply relaxed in the backyard. Still new to many people is the Foursquare which is a both an iphone application and an internet site that that helps us to keep track of the people in our social setups. Foursquare lets people to publicize their location to their friends as well as to the friends of their friends and the like. It also facilitates the meeting of different people who were previously unfamiliar with each other through friend connections. It has been able to spread like a fire to amongst the friend circles.
Foursquare has integrated a number of ideas, many of which are location oriented. For instance the GPS communication system, It allows a person to “check in” (show that you were there). Campuses can utilize this technology to help deal with the problem of parking lots. They can put the individuals possessing the permits into some kind of pools, and each pool should contain a manageable number of individuals. All the individuals in one particular pool (can have unique name) may then become friends in Foursquare where they will ensure that they “check in” as well as “check out” of the parking lots so that their friends can be aware of the spaces available at the parking lot at any given time. This will help many students avoid driving to campus especially after being notified by this GPS application.
Below are some statistics that relate to car park problems.
i. On average, 7 out of 10 college students in the U.S own a car
ii. An estimated 80% of students owning cars prefer driving to campus (are commuters)
iii. About 40% of the allocated passes in U.S are illegitimate (University of Arkansas issue 14,000 instead of the available 8,300 spaces whereas Alabama’s Auburn University has 18,000 permits for the 10,300 spaces).
CREATION OF A MOBILE PHONE APPLICATION
There is an urgent need for a phone-based parking lot application to deal with the current need for an immediate solution to the problems of inadequate and inefficient parking programs in campuses. It should be a phone application to ensure that it is accessible to all students. Above all, the application should be free and readily available for download. Since many phones are currently powered by android operating systems, the application should be able to run on android phones as well as the other systems such as the Windows 8. Fundamentally, the application must have the GPS capabilities to facilitate easy location. The application must have the maps of the 5 parking lots clearly drawn and fed into the system.
GPS can be exploited in solving the enigmatic challenge of parking lots. It can trail the position of both the available and unavailable spaces inside the 5 car parks. This will enable them to plan well on the issue of driving to school thus helping reduce the likelihood of them falling prey to the huge parking violation fines (Farrell, 2003). The application should be easy and simple to use. Take this example; when I click on the name of parking lot A on my mobile screen, the applications shows me the available space and where it is situated. So as to minimize on the misuse of the application, registration should only be allowed once. Either the school email or the car pass can be used for registration. Users will need to sign in and out of the parking lots on the application. Since nobody is specifically targeted or visible to others, it fosters security for all its users as far as GPS is concerned. The students who show greater commitment to the use of this technology can be rewarded points which can be redeemed to obtain a number of other services within their campuses. For instance they can be offered free physical exercise sessions at the campus fitness center, a 20% cut in the parking fee for the subsequent semester, free meal vouchers, discounts in the bookstore, a trip to one of the exotic places in the country during their final year of study.
Parking lot problems have become a nightmare to many students in campus (Farrell, 2003). Majority of these students feel that the administration is either moving very slowly in addressing the issue or they have completely decided to ignore this issue which continues to haunt many of these students. Some students are forced to stalk their colleagues so as to get a place to park. Technology seems to be the most practical solution to this problem that faces millions of students in several campuses. In that regard, a mobile application that integrates the use of GPS communication seems be the long-awaited knight in shining armor.
- Farrell, Diana. “The Real New Economy.” Harvard Business Review on Point (October, 2003).
- Gitman, Lawrence, and Carl McDaniel. The Future of Business, 4th ed. Thomson South Western, (2003).
- Goldsborough, Reid. “Arming Yourself in the Virus War.” Tactics (December 2003).