Multiple cities
Smart Mobility

DisPark: Using IoT and mobile app to improve car parking spot management for people with disabilities

Team: UCSL Lab @ CUT

DisPark experiment exploits Internet of Things technologies in combination with the OrganiCity tools to design a prototype system that assists people with disabilities to obtain real-time availability of designated parking spots. This experiment was held in Santander, Spain and Nicosia, Cyprus.

The Team

The key members of this experiment include: Dr. Lambros Lambrinos (Project management and system design), Sergios Stamatis (Developer), Dr. Evangelos Karapanos (HCI expert), Dr. Angeliki Gazi (Psychology expert) and Marina Christodoulou (End-user liaison).

"Through our experiment, we wanted to help people with disabilities in their daily challenge of finding an available parking spot in busy urban areas. We believe that this time consuming activity, could be made easier by combining crowdsourcing with state of the art technology, namely sensors on users’ smart phones and IoT technologies.”


1. Co-creation activities
Involving the end-users from the start was of utmost importance in our experiment. As such, we created a questionnaire aiming to identify the most serious issues faced by our target end-user group. In addition, a number of face-to-face meetings were held and attended by users, the developer team, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and psychology experts. The goal was to co-create a system that had high chances of being adopted by the target community, increasing its sustainability potential; special attention was paid to accessibility, privacy and other end-user concerns.

2. System implementation - DisPark API server
Our system required the implementation of an API to abstract the business logic. It includes user authentication functions and parking spot related functions. Specifically, it provides functions for obtaining real-time parking spot availability information and updating parking spots status. Parking spots are created as OrganiCity assets and their status updates is carried out through the respective OrganiCity APIs.

3. Creating storyboard for DisPark Android app
As part of the application development process, our team devised a storyboard. When the user opens the app, the user is required to log in and enable the GPS sensor on their device for location identification. The user can find nearby available parking spots, using the map. When they eventually reach their destination and park, they are notified to verify their arrival at a parking spot (which is inferred from their current location); parking spot status is then updated to reflect legitimate occupancy.

4. Utilising the Smartphone Experimentation Tool
With the guidance of the OrganiCity team we were able to use the Smartphone Experimentation Tool and specifically the tab for asset creation. Through this tab, the administrators of our experiment e.g. municipality officials, will be able to add parking spots, to OrganiCity as assets. Such assets can then be managed via our DisPark API.

Experiment outcome

DisPark Android Application: The application tells people with disabilities the exact locations of parking spots designated for their use; they are able to know in advance if a parking spot is currently available and it saves them the time they would otherwise spend looking for parking. Administrators can also mark new parking spot locations that will make them discoverable by other users of the application.

DisPark API: Our API service can be used as an infrastructure for further development of applications related to parking spot availability. The use of open-source technologies enables deployment on a wide variety of platforms.

Lessons learned

    1. User privacy concerns
      Our target end-users had many concerns about the use of technology and some raised privacy issues. These were promptly addressed in discussions reassuring users that no unnecessary information would be collected and the system would not keep any history that is exploitable.
    2. Application Usage
      Despite the initial excitement from users, the overall activity and use of the application was moderate. We attribute this to the small scale roll-out and the fact that there was no real-time information on parking spots available due to the lack of occupancy sensors.

DisPark Experiment Website
IoT Lab at CUT Twitter

What happened & what's next?

  • Our plan is to continue using our experiment and to establish its use with the local community of people with disabilities in Nicosia, Cyprus and later on to other cities.
  • We will proceed with the installation of IoT sensors at various car parks to provide real-time parking spot availability information. This can further enhance the user experience. At the same time, this could help the municipality in regulating the parking spot usage and prevent illegal use of the parking spot.
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