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UMass Lowell develops its own parking app

Andrew Hudson   ||   Apr 05, 2019  ||   ,

It's not rare for a university to leverage a mobile application to help streamline campus parking. What is rare, however, is for a university to create it's own app in house.

That's exactly what the University of Massachusetts Lowell has done with its new Parking Spaces app. According to an official university release, students, faculty and staff can all check real-time parking availability at all three of the university’s parking garages, as well as the two largest lots on the university's North Campus with the newly updated Parking Spaces app.

Developed internally by UMass Lowell's Web Services department, the Parking Spaces app shows the number of available spaces in lots and garages enabling users to better plan their commute into campus and save valuable time. The app is free to download, but is currently only available on iOS. The app also includes directions, hours of operation and accessibility information for each parking location.

Parking Spaces is an updated version that will replace the university’s previous Garage Spaces app. Garage Spaces was released in 2016 exclusively for campus parking garages, not open-air parking lots.

Parking availability is monitored by the UMass Lowell's UCard, Access and Parking Services (UCAPS) office based on data collected as vehicles enter and exit garage and parking lot gates. The addition of new parking lots to the mobile app coincides with infrastructure upgrades on-site at the parking lots that now enables their gate data to be sent back to the app.

“Adding this information to the app allows people driving to campus to plan their trip and reduce the time hunting for parking spaces, which ultimately reduces our carbon footprint,” says Jon Victorine, director of UCAPS and security technology at UMass Lowell.

Another new feature added to the Parking Spaces app enables users to customize which parking lots they see on their user interface within the app. As with the previous version, the app also includes an audio option that “speaks” the number of available spaces.

The addition of more parking lots enables UMass Lowell to now glean parking data from lots that are primarily used by commuter students. This has been an important addition, as it provides UCAPS a more holistic view of parking availability on campus. Similarly, UCAPS is receiving valuable metrics from another of the newly added lots that's used by a large cross-section of the campus community for special events.

According to UMass Lowell's Web Services, iOS devices accounted for some 72% of the original Garage Spaces user base. That app was downloaded more than 1,000 times to student and faculty iPhones, and the addition of more parking lots along with the new app features is likely to boost campus community downloads. UMass Lowell currently serves some 18,000 students and roughly 2,200 faculty and staff.

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