I’m in Finland this week visiting Nokia, my new employer. The Finns use SMS for everything including late-night spot loans. Last night at dinner, one of my colleagues texted a taxi service and within two minutes he got a call from a cab that was waiting outside the door. He just texted his address to a number and the entire booking took place automatically.
Texting is their command line for physical world.
This got me thinking. With flat data plans getting cheaper and cheaper, could you set up a service which used an SMS broadcasting service such as twitter to reserve parking spots in a busy downtown area?
Need a spot in North Beach on a Saturday night? Send an SMS to a parking shortcode number that goes to a dispatcher. Dispatch then sends out a tweet using the account used for North Beach ‘reservists’ who would have a little time on their hands (homeless folks? students?). If the reservist has a place, they tweet back the location of the spot and then dispatch texts back the location of the free space to the person looking for a spot. When the car gets there, standard pricing applies (i.e. $1 for a metered space, $2 for a non-metered space).
The model can be applied to pretty much any situation where you need a temporary stand-in. Looking for someone to stand in line for your AC/DC tickets? Waiting for a new passport? Text it!