Lot Spot project to help students park shifts into second phase, changes funding

May 4, 2015

Audrey Jensen
[email protected]

Parking has been an issue on campus since the school began.

Nooh Alrashid | The Scribe
Nooh Alrashid | The Scribe

In the fall 2014 semester a group of students and faculty proposed the idea for developing an application and website called Lot Spot. This phone app and website will allow students to check levels four and five of the Columbine parking garage for open spaces.

The first phase, $800, was funded by Parking and Transportation Services.

A sensor was placed on the fourth floor of the parking garage to track cars and tell students on both the app and the website the number of spaces available.

Executive director of Parking and Transportation Jim Spice said there were a few issues with this beta version.

“Weather especially was affecting the sensors and not sensing the cars going under. The next phase they’re going to be changing out their technology,” he said.

Connor McCormick, freshman bachelor of innovation major and Lot Spot cofounder, expressed that while cold weather was an issue, it was not the main problem with the technology.

“The other part was human error,” he said. “We had people that would miss the laser entirely when they drove in. Part of this has been working on the positioning of the lasers.”

As part of phase two, scheduled to be completed Aug. 14, the group will utilize improved technology and funding from the Green Action Fund. McCormick said that their new technology will be more weather proofed and will not have the same problems.

“The old thing we were using, we had modified from its original design to use it how we wanted to use it. It’s just what you do when you prototype, you have to use some weird technologies,” he said.

The students worked with GAF project coordinator Vanessa Ferona on proposing the second phase of the project to GAF. Their proposal was approved for $7,220, less than the original $10,000 proposal.

“Not all of the requested funds were granted. GAF always reviews proposals critically and will only award what seems necessary for the success of the program,” said Office of Sustainability director, Linda Kogan, in an e-mail.

“This project was complicated and required two in-person presentations to the GAF committee to explain the plans and review details. [Lot Spot Faculty Advisor] Terry Boult was also asked to attend the GAF meeting to answer questions and vouch for the project,” she added.

According to Kogan, GAF decided to approve Lot Spot due to several factors. GAF achieved better understanding of the project, the students showed their dedication to the parking lot experience and reducing emissions and the team pledged to create a sustainable parking committee.

“The funding is specifically for the software and equipment for the pilot project. The funding allows the students to move forward with phase two of their project,” Kogan said.

McCormick knows the impact the second phase can have, which looks to utilize all four floors of the garage.

“Now we have a totally different hardware that we’re installing. All the pieces are fully enclosed. We’re transmitting the data in a different form. All those will add to the accuracy and speed of the counting,” he said.

“If the App is successful, idling and circling around the parking lots will be reduced. This may lead to better communication about which lots have available spaces and which lots are full.”

Once the app and website are established, they hope to have an audio voice on the app tell students the current parking capacity so they will not look at their phones while driving.

The Lot Spot team met through Startup Weekend on campus.