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Detailed Parking App Helps Baltimore Drivers Avoid Tickets

Baltimore-based app developers used the city's open data to help citizens make better decisions when it comes time to park their vehicles.

by / February 22, 2013

If police can use predictive technology to find criminals, then surely the same technology could be used by citizens to help them avoid getting into trouble. And a new app developed by Baltimore-based SpotAgent does just that.

By making use of the city's open data on parking tickets, the developers created an app that tells drivers their threat-level based on where they chose to park their vehicle, according to an article in The Atlantic Cities. Meter maids have favorite locations for handing out tickets, according to the report, and there are hot spots around Balitmore where even a duteous citizen can get a ticket for overstaying their parking meter by just a couple minutes.

Baltimore's open data on parking tickets includes the date, time, rough address and license plate information for each ticket the city administers. The SpotAgent app (screenshots of which are below) uses that information and the driver's current location to generate a threat-level, similar to the Homeland Security Advisory System that uses color-coded threat-levels to indicate danger.

"You know how it is when you go to a meter -- you think, ‘I’m going to be here an hour. Hopefully if I’m over 5-10 minutes that I’m not paying for, I can get away with,'" said Developer Shea Frederick.  "But if it’s a red threat level, I’ll put in extra money."

In addition to generating a threat level, the app displays a timeline for your location that spans the entire week. While a given location may be a dangerous place to park at 8 a.m. on Friday, the same spot could be a relatively safe place to park midday on Mondays and Tuesdays. Another screen shows users where parking meters can be found and the monetary penalty associated with not paying that meter.

The app, which is available for iPhone and Android, is now only useable in Baltimore, but according to the developer's website, it will also eventually be available in other cities.

Main photo courtesy of

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