App pays you to spot illegally parked cars

Published June 17, 2013

| FoxNews.com

Becoming a bounty hunter may soon get a lot easier.

SpotSquad is a mobile phone application in the works that allows users to report illegally parked cars and get a cut of the fine paid as a reward.

Created by a technology startup in Winnipeg, Canada, the app aims to crowdsource parking enforcement at privately run lots and potentially on public streets.

The reporting process is as simple as taking a photo of the car, which is GPS tagged while optical character recognition reads and records the license plate number, then choosing from a list the type of infraction observed -- everything from expired meters to unauthorized parking in a handicapped spot.

Based on the location of the vehicle, the report is automatically sent to the operator of the lot, or local law enforcement if it’s on public property. Then personnel is dispatched to issue a notice, ticket or have it towed.

Company co-founder Chris Johnson tells FoxNews.com that last point is important, as the photos and reports themselves will not be submitted as evidence in court, at least not at this stage.

Down the road, if the system proves to be effective, he thinks it’s possible that laws could be written to allow it to be directly involved in issuing citations, but for now is intended to be used more along the lines of a smartphone-based Crime Stoppers program for these minor offenses.

SpotSquad is in talks with several parking lot management companies, and hopes to have a pilot program up and running in Winnipeg by July, according to Johnson.

Details are still being worked out, but the proposed business model would see the company take a percentage of the fine paid, which it will then split with the reporting user on an increasing scale, depending on the number of successful reports they’ve filed. Ranks ranging from Private to General bring a gaming aspect to the experience.

Although SpotSquad is currently focused on the Canadian market, Johnson definitely sees an opportunity to expand into the United States, where there are approximately 10 times as many drivers as in its neighbor to the north.

As for people who might take issue with it, he says "just read the signs, follow the rules and you won’t have a problem."

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/06/17/app-pays-to-spot-illegally-parked-cars/