About the App
Tired of hunting for a parking space? Starting Monday, March 6th, UM is launching a beta version of the app ParkZen to help you find a parking spot on campus more easily. Developed by a professor and student at Louisiana State University, ParkZen is a mobile app that is designed to help students, employees, and visitors find available parking on campus in real-time.
The app can be downloaded through iOS and Android. Once in the app, allow location services, and see the available spots in your area! The app also provides a how-to guide found in its settings that details the types of parking lots, how to view empty spots, and even shows you how to share your vehicle's location with family and friends.
See the videos and FAQs below to learn more about ParkZen at the University of Montana.
Video: ParkZen Technology at LSU
Video: Find Parking on LSU's Campus
Frequently Asked Questions
ParkZen utilizes smart data analytics to identify real-time open parking spaces and then broadcasts parking availability around selected campus parking lots. If you forget where you parked, the app can also locate a parked vehicle. (This means no more wandering around the lot trying to find your vehicle!)
The app uses an algorithm to determine parking availability by monitoring the user’s smartphone connection to their vehicle’s Bluetooth and processing the user’s smartphone motion and activity data. Parking availability is calculated within predetermined geographical regions (i.e., campus parking lots). Once you cross the boundaries of the small geographic regions created by ParkZen, it alerts the app that the spot is available/unavailable.
The technology is powered by crowdsourcing, so the more Griz who use the app, the better the parking experience will be on campus. We only ask that users provide continuous location permissions for ParkZen to seamlessly identify parking availability.
Another feature allows drivers to toggle between parking lot occupancy maps and heatmaps showing areas where spots are taken by other users. This way, drivers can make informed decisions about where to look for parking even if they don’t see real-time recent spots vacated by other users on the map at the time that they interact with the app.
The short answer is yes, but ParkZen does not use your information for anything other than helping you to find parking. The app only requests high location accuracy data for a limited amount of time, starting from when a user enters a pre-determined parking area (defined as a geofence) and stopping when the user has parked, typically within one to five minutes. The app’s software is activated in the background only when a user leaves a parking activity area and then shows their spot as available on a map in real-time.
In other words, your location data is only being used for a very short period of time in a specific place to help you and others find a place to park, and ParkZen does not track your identity or your vehicle. And, as the app is highly energy efficient, it won’t drain your phone’s battery in the process!
Our parking director, Bill Donovan, is working hard to make parking a more pleasant experience on campus. Location data used from ParkZen (all anonymous, non-identifying) will help Bill and his team identify:
- Which lots fill up the most quickly
- What time lots reach over 90% capacity
- The average time people are parked in certain lots
When you use the ParkZen app, you are helping our parking department receive baseline data for parking optimization decisions in the future. Thank you for helping us help you.
To report a problem, launch the app and go to Settings -> Support. You can then submit a request via email to ParkZen. You can also reach out directly, via the ParkZen website, as they love to engage directly with their users.
Currently, because the app primarily uses Bluetooth connectivity to your vehicle in combination with location, you shouldn't have any problems parking in a spot and then heading to lunch with a friend or jumping on the Park & Ride bus. If you have an older vehicle without any type of Bluetooth capability and you hop in another vehicle, ParkZen might think you are driving away and no longer using the spot.
Please keep in mind that this app is still in beta testing, so some kinks will need to be worked out as the app updates in the next couple of months. We are happy to address concerns and understand that this situation might only happen for a very small sample size (with carpooling and using older vehicles without Bluetooth).
You may have noticed while using the ParkZen app that there are a lot of open parking spaces down by Dornblaser Field and at Missoula College. UDASH, ASUM’s free student-run bus service, frequents the routes directly adjacent to these parking lots! Instead of spending time searching for a spot, you can easily park at Dornblaser or Missoula College and hop on Red Line (from Dornblaser) or Green Line (from Missoula College) and get a free ride right to the main campus! Check out the UM Transportation website to find the bus schedules, or download the Transit app to get real-time bus schedule information!