Why “Smart Parking Spots” Are Stupid, And Five Things That Should Be Smarter


While they were a little slow on the whole “democracy” thing, those British blokes across the pond are getting their smart on in at least one area of public life: parking.

According to Quartz, “this week, the City of Westminster, one of London’s local councils, will start embedding the first 0f 3,000 sensors into the streets. They will be in the ground by the end of March, making London the world’s first major city to adopt the long-heralded ‘smart parking’ revolution… Each sensor in the ground detects when a car is parked on the street above it. The council releases the data to the public through a smartphone app.”

"A parking spot right around this corner? Better speed up and get it!"
“A parking spot right around this corner? Better speed up and get it!”

At first, I thought the idea of accessing an app to view open parking spots was, in a word, bloody brilliant, mate! (Ok, three words. But you can’t pass up the opportunity to talk as if you’re toasting warm beer in a cabby hat.) Who doesn’t hate being unable to find a spot, a particularly common nuisance in the giant clusterfuck that is the city of Boston.

But then I actually used my brain and rethought my position…

After spending years in futile efforts to find that open space, only to relent and fork over the $18,976 it costs to park in a public garage for 20 minutes, I recently found a back street near the Garden that ALWAYS has open spots. It’s my own little slice of heaven. A grimy, dank, foul-smelling and littered with rats and actual litter slice of heaven.

“What street is that?” you are probably asking right now.

Like I’m going to tell you. And THAT’S why I dislike the idea of a parking spot app. It immediately abolishes the earned advantage those of us who spend way too much time seeking out parking spots have acquired.

Instead, I vote that we invest these new technological resources in making the five following places smarter (ranked in order of current dumbness):

5. Dunkin’ Donuts



Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But when my last DD post continues to be the most popular post coming in from search engines, I am now dedicated to writing about the delicious bakery chain as often as possible. I’m a slave to the SEO.)

Dunkin’ Donuts totally deserves to be on this list. It is well-known law that there is to be a minimum of eight Dunkin’ locations within each square mile of Massachusetts. I can see 12 from my cubicle. There should never be a Dunkins that insanely crowded, yet I feel like I still see some in the morning that have a line out the door and others that are only visited by three employees and the requisite old man reading a newspaper that is shipped to each  franchise upon opening.

This guy!
This guy!

If there was an app that could let me know that current crowd situation in all nearby Dunkins, my life would be a lot easier. Even if others knew which were commonly crowded and which were a Dunkin Desert, that public knowledge would even things out for everyone.

4. Office Bathrooms


There is nothing worse than crawling into your office on a Monday morning and taking the full tour of your office restrooms- constantly greeted by lines at the urinals and occupied stalls.

However I guarantee you that the oasis of the empty bathroom exists somewhere on some floor in your office, hidden (it’s usually by IT). I need an app to find it.

3. Zoos

Some people enjoy the lively atmosphere of a crowded zoo. I prefer to bask in the serenity of nature/steal the weaker animals in solitude.


Either way, zoos need to get with the times.

2. Family Get-Togethers


We’ve all been there- you show up to your relatives’ place for Thanksgiving or Easter, and you’re the first one there…save for Aunt Tiffany. Auntie Tiff is already drunk off gimlets (still don’t know what those are) and smells of bacon. She carries her bunny named Jacque-the third bunny she’s had named Jacque in the past five years. They keep escaping.

You then sit there awkwardly, downing gimlets to pass the time, waiting for someone-anyone- else to show up. Meanwhile, the rest of your relatives are playing a game of chicken in which no one can see their adversary, trying to gauge at what time they can show up to not be alone with Auntie Tiff, but also not be rudely late.

Two hours later, the next relative shows up. It’s your cousin Fred. He prefers “Frederick.”

All of this could be avoided with an app that shows you which relatives were already gathered at the family get together and which ones were on their way. Never again would you have to walk into such a situation blind. Other than Grandma Fitzgerald, who literally is blind.

1. Bars

I loathe lines at bars; the entire idea of standing among a group of drunk strangers so that you can proceed to stand among a group of drunk strangers boggles my mind. It shakes me to my core when I show up to a bar that we had decided on meeting friends and, upon seeing the amorphous blob of people, realize that it will be an unforeseen and unpredictable amount of time before we can see our friends already inside. (It really is an unpredictable amount of time too, because bouncers tell the truth about how long it will take to get in about 1.5% of the time. Sometimes they lie to you to keep you in line; other times they lie to get you to leave.)

An app that could show you the lines at bars and how crowded it is inside would make it SO much easier to decide where to go at night and to organize plans with your friends.

I beg someone smarter than I: Forget about the parking and the DD’s and the zoos. I don’t care as much about the office bathrooms or family get toghers. On behalf of a generation of young people, MAKE THIS APP.

Zuck knows what I’m talking about. Get after that shit Marky Mark! Yeah.. you know.

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