As a denizen of downtown Pittsburgh, I am well aware of how difficult it can be to find a parking spot when I go to the theatre, a gallery crawl, or the symphony. You end up driving to various parking garages only to find a "Lot Full" sign at the entrance. In a brilliant bit of service to the arts organizations in the cultural district, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has created ParkPGH - a multi-platform service providing real-time parking availability information for eight garages in downtown Pittsburgh.
Here are two key reasons why I find this to be a brilliant service:
Addressing a community challenge: By creating ParkPGH, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has provided a solution for an issue impacting not just audience members for its own venues, but also audience members for a multitude of arts and cultural organizations not affiliated with the Trust, as well as employees and visitors for other businesses in the downtown cultural district.
Multiple ways of accessing information: The Cultural Trust worked with developers at Deep Local to create a multi-platform service, so that audiences have multiple ways of learning about available parking options. In addition to the iPhone application, ParkPGH has a mobile website, a traditional website, and both text and voice option -- thereby offering the service to anyone with a phone or access to the Internet.
Did I mention that the parking availability information is updated every minute? A key layer of the service developed in collaboration with Traffic 21, a multi-disciplinary initiative of Carnegie Mellon University directed from within Heinz College, which provided research capabilities and back-end support for the ParkPGH project.
So, thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for making it easier and more convenient for me to find a parking spot in the cultural district! Hopefully, this idea will catch on in other cities.