1493452038090 - Parking app hopes to prevent crimes against women

Parking app hopes to prevent crimes against women

A new parking app developed by New Zealand start-up, Inugo, hopes to make parking garages a safer stop for women. 

The app, nicknamed “Your Parking Angel”, uses technology installed into parking barrier arms to make it possible to locate nearby parking, pay, and raise the barrier arm from your smartphone. It also helps users find parking spots and displays the price and location on a smartphone using Google Maps.

Inugo chief operating officer Mark Speedy said the recent case of the Christchurch nurse who was held up at gunpoint after she couldn’t find a car park near her workplace shows the app has “real human value”. 

This was the third-reported incident in the hospital vicinity in 18 months amid concerns there was a shortage of safe parking around the hospital. 

READ MORE: Warning issued after Christchurch Hospital nurse assaulted on her way to work

Inugo marketing operations consultant Francesca Alexander said the safety features of the app were first raised by female beta users and testers.

“We’re really excited to see that’s one of the relevant things we developed into. With Inugo you can use the app to go straight to your car windows closed and you don’t have to roll down your window, you can use the app to go in and out,” Alexander said. 

She said universities, airports, hospitals could use the app as a way to fulfil obligations to make a safer workplace under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The US Department of Justice found 25 per cent of rapes take place in a parking garage or public area and an Oxford University case study found 21 per cent of homicides in Toronto happened in parking lots, parks and streets.

​COO Mark Speedy said: “Car parks are difficult for users in so many ways – from lost tickets to finding a pay machine … Inugo addresses these problems in a new way, by making it much easier to pay for parking and so much safer – no more hanging around by lonely pay machines, which I am told women find frightening.”

The company expects to roll out the technology to 10-12 more barrier arms in the next few weeks. Inugo is already available in certain parking garages in Hamilton and Auckland and has been downloaded 91 smartphones. 

“Our goal is to continue to build and innovate the parking that’s available,” Speedy said.  

On the horizon for the company is to develop ways to find street parking by GPS, access council parking spaces, secure advance booking and event parking, and use technology to read license plates.

Francesca Alexander said there is a partnership in the works to do with on-street parking or easy access parking. 

But Alexander said due to the sensitivity of the client Inugo could not announce the project just yet. 

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