Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Get paid for squealing on parking scofflaws

New phone app would let you take photo, cash in

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A new smartphone app would give Winnipeggers the opportunity to report parking violations -- and get paid to do it.

If the concept becoming a reality, the new app, called SpotSquad, would let people get a share of the ticket or towing bounty, says app creator Chris Johnson.

"It turns everybody with a smartphone into a parking enforcement officer," he said.

"When you see that guy park by the fire hydrant... in less than 10 seconds you can open up your app, snap a picture, grab the location, send it to the city, send it to Impark, and when they get ticketed or towed, you get rewarded," he said.

The app users would then be able to choose whether the money should be sent to themselves or to a charity of their choice, he said.

"If (the) observation results in (a penalty being paid), the city or Impark would pay us a bounty that we transfer right through," he said, noting SpotSquad takes a cut of the bounty, too.

The system is not yet a reality. Though the City of Winnipeg is not working with the developers, Johnson said he is currently in discussions with some of the city's private parking and lot operators. For now, those who want to start enforcing parking can sign up to be part of a pre-release.

The idea for the app came after a developing competition called Ramp Up, of which Johnson is a member.

"Part of why we won, is during our final pitch on Sunday night to our four investors and judges, we were actually ticketing their cars in the parking lot," he said.

Some people have suggested the app would let them deal with parking problems personally.

Rob, a courier in the city, says parking violations are a daily occurrence for him.

"I encounter loads of issues with parking. I can never find a spot myself. Loading zones, people sit there and put their hazards on half an hour," said the man, who did not want his last name used.

While he wouldn't be trying to actively find bad parkers to get paid, Rob said he would report those who interfere with his job.

"If I lose 15 minutes out of my day because I have to roll around the block twice to find a spot, that hurts in my wallet," he said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Are you worried this app calls on us to spy on one another? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2013 A5

History

Updated on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 6:50 AM CDT: replaces photos, adds question

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