Business Idea – Parking Space Net

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!





5 responses to “Business Idea – Parking Space Net”

  1. Brian Avatar

    It is interesting how in Europe, SMS is used for so much more. And I do think there is opportunity for greater use in the U.S. In fact, I am part of SpotScout ( and we are pursuing “space exchange” markets, starting with parking. Currently, our marketplace is browser-based, but we continue to explore incorporating texting into it as well. Temporary stand-ins could be tricky though, at least with parking, as it is not legal to hold a public space for another person. Plus, a model where users don’t have to physically met (and exchange money) has its advantages.

  2. iankennedy Avatar

    Very interesting – this is what I love about blogging – that a random, late-night post about a wild idea would not only get a reality check (“not legal to hold a public space for another person”) but also a pointer to a service I had no idea existed. Thanks Brian. Love the blog too, if just for the collection of stories about public parking such as the <a href="; target="_blank">$9.5 million parking ticket.</a>

  3. Todd Sampson Avatar
    Todd Sampson

    Very cool (if illegal) idea. Gives me an idea to discuss at breakfast tomorrow… 😉

  4. Ashootosh Chand Avatar
    Ashootosh Chand


  5. Transfer Funds by Simply Dialing Avatar

    […] The ease at which someone uses SMS to text a cab reservation in Helsinki taught me to look at SMS as a command line for the real world and today I’m learning about mobile SMS […]

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