Zipstall, a free app developed during the pandemic, is tackling the downtown parking experience in Edmonton by suggesting the best available parking stall at any given time.
The concept was developed by Kevin Petterson, who spent 15 years in the commercial real estate industry.
"What I learned as a broker is that parking is like the grease for the wheel — the piece that keeps everything moving," explained Petterson.
"Everybody's been so focused on taking the parking meter and putting it in your pocket, but they haven't focused on the customer's real pain points."
That's what Zipstall has set out to do, by offering users the choice between cheaper or closer parking options so that they don't have to dig through the plethora of possible lot locations and rates.
The startup does this by using data from the City of Edmonton containing the length and location of parking sessions over the past five years. Zipstall partnered with the University of Alberta to work through a 10-million-row spreadsheet and develop baseline predictions, aiming to eventually obtain real-time information that will make the app even more precise.
In the meantime, users can contribute to the data by confirming where they parked and roughly how many stalls are still available. Looking forward, the company is in discussions with the City of Edmonton, Impark, Diamond Parking, and Precise ParkLink to integrate payment into the app as well.
People who download the Zipstall app earn "local dollars" each time they park, which can be redeemed at partner businesses like Dosc, Dorinku Osaka, and The Massage Shop. Zipstall's goal is to be a champion for local businesses and bring people to the city's core.
There are also off-market passes available to Edmontonians who work downtown and want to park regularly.
"We're trying to actually improve the overall experience that people have when they go downtown," Petterson said. "You come, you go, you stay as long as you want. There's no deadline or extending your session. Whenever you're done, just go."
While the company is currently focused on dialing in the downtown parking experience, Petterson has plans to do the same for the Whyte Avenue and 124th Street shopping districts.