JMU is notorious for its parking troubles. Students who drive often have a nightmare story on trying to find a spot in one of the three decks — myself included. I’ve had times where I drive from deck to deck for an hour before class, and yet it couldn’t find a single spot, meaning I missed my class that I had. One student is trying to change how JMU students find a parking spot with a new parking app.
“Imagine… not knowing which parking deck is a better option – you don’t know what spaces are available, if any,” Dustin Hux says. “Open your phone and you instantly know your odds. You can plan your trip around it.”
Hux, a junior computer science major, says this was his initial thought when creating his parking app. It only took him a month to complete and release it after beginning development in September.
It pulls the parking spaces available in each deck from JMU Parking Services’ website and displays it on the website, Hux says. It does it all in real-time, meaning you see the actual number of spaces available at that exact moment.
The app isn’t just for students though; it tracks the parking spaces for faculty, as well, in the Warsaw deck, and is equally as useable for professors, according to Hux.
“There were so many times I wanted to know what the [digital spaces] sign says but had no means,” Hux says. “Seeing that problem and trying to be helpful, I created a way for people to figure out where to park easily.”
However, the app had its setbacks. Hux found one of the biggest problems was keeping the number of parking spots available fresh and updated on the app. After finding out how to host it cheaply, it came along quickly, he said.
Before this app, Hux learned a lot by creating a sober driving app for his fraternity.
Of referring to the narrow audience in comparison to all of JMU for the parking app, Hus says, “I learned to make something free, useful, helpful to get people’s attention. If you want to make something that sells, you have to cater to more people”
One thing that differentiates his parking app from the sober driving app is that Hux implemented a feedback chat into the app, so that users could report any problems they may have and request future updates to the app.
Hux says that “everyone wants a way to auction off their parking spaces,” but he isn’t sure if that’s possible. However, he does have some other ideas he hopes to add.
The app only tracks the three decks, but Hux hopes to expand it to the lots. Since they aren’t digitally tracked through data, Hux isn’t sure how he would do it and would like to find a way to “estimate the spaces open at any time” for those.
Hux says that he’s enjoyed the mostly positive feedback he’s gotten from the app and hopes to take it to another level at some other point. He’s been searching for partners on campus to help and market it.
The parking app mastermind isn’t sure what his next move is – whether he’ll move on to develop another app or not – but he does have one thing already in the works and that’s to have parity with iOS and give access to as many people as possible.