Digital Life

Auction Off Your Parking Space with SpotScout

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A new service will allow drivers to auction off information about when they will leave their parking spaces to other drivers looking for a spot to park. The online forum will also let people auction off their driveways. Andrew Rollert, CEO of SpotScout, the company that will connect drivers through mobile devices, talks with Madeleine Brand.


This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand.

When it comes to frustrating experiences, it's hard to be driving around busy city streets, looking for a parking spot. This being America, though, someone has come up with a business that tries to solve that problem and make some money off it.

That someone is Andrew Rollert. He's the founder of an online parking spot marketplace called SpotScout. And Andrew Rollert joins me now on foot from the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hi, Andrew.

Mr. ANDREW ROLLERT (CEO, SpotScout): How are you?

BRAND: Fine, thank you.

Well, how does your website work?

Mr. ROLLERT: It's essentially a service that allows you from a mobile device - cell phone or a PDA, Blackberry, you know, so on, so on - to be able to find a spot in the area you're going to, by connecting you with individuals that can give you a space or will be leaving at the time of your arrival, approximately.

BRAND: Okay, so here I am, let's say driving around Cambridge, and I'm frustrated looking for a spot. And I whip out my phone - my web-enabled phone - and I go to your website and what do I find?

Mr. ROLLERT: You would log in with your telephone and pass code, which you get when you register. When you register, you also tell us the types of cars that you drive. Once we know what type of car you're driving, and where you're going and how long you want to be there, at that point, we can go to all the garages that exist in that area, that physical area. We can go to the private individuals that might live in that area, and they're out of their driveway or their apartment space, and they're willing to give it to you. And then, lastly, we go to those individuals who are leaving that specific area, and say, well, there might be somebody who might be willing to take your space for X amount of dollars.

BRAND: It sounds like it takes a long time. By the time you do all of this, won't you lose your spot?

Mr. ROLLERT: The whole process takes about 45 seconds to find a space. And in the case of an on-street space exchange, they're not selling a public space. All they're selling to you is the information of exactly where they are and exactly what time they're leaving. And then at that point, it's up to you as to whether or not you want to show up and be almost first in line for that space.

BRAND: That sounds a little disingenuous. You're saying they're not selling the space, per se, but just the information about the space?

Mr. ROLLERT: Well, it's fully legal to say, I'm leaving this area at this time. I'm not going to hold this space for you, but I'm going to drive out of that space at 156 Main Street at 4:43. And if you have that information, you have a higher likelihood of finding that space versus other people.

BRAND: And how much would that space go for?

Mr. ROLLERT: Well, it's really how much that information would go for.

BRAND: Right.

Mr. ROLLERT: We don't put any controls on the marketplace. If you feel you can get $20 for it or $5 - whatever you feel the environment is like at that time, might give you an inclination as to what you might get for that information.

BRAND: And the cities this will be available in are...

Mr. ROLLERT: It's going live, in mid-September, in San Francisco, New York, and Boston. Then, a little bit later on this fall, we'll go into other top five cities that have the worst supply-demand ratios in the United States.

BRAND: Alright. Andrew Rollert is the CEO of the company SpotScout.

Thank you very much.

Mr. ROLLERT: Thank you very much. Have a good day.

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