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Crowd-sourcing helps app get around parking data limitations

Nov. 4, 2015
No one — and no single app — has all the answers yet when it comes to getting usable, up-to-date info on available parking to commercial truck drivers. But one company, Trucker Path, says its free software gets past many current data limitations by crowd-sourcing information. "The community supports the community," says Charles Myers, vice president of business development for Trucker Path and a longtime transportation and logistics industry veteran.

No one — and no single app — has all the answers yet when it comes to getting usable, up-to-date info on available parking to commercial truck drivers. But one company, Trucker Path, says its free software gets past many current data limitations by crowd-sourcing information.

"The community supports the community," says Charles Myers, vice president of strategy for Trucker Path and a longtime transportation and logistics industry veteran.

"For example, when a driver pulls into a truck stop or rest area, the server will send the driver a message asking him/her to give an update of parking availability — full, available spaces or empty," he explains. "Once the driver enters the information and presses the send button, the information is immediately available to the community."

During the Federal Highway Administration's latest webinar addressing the truck parking problem, speakers noted that not all drivers use smartphones and apps, so no app is likely to be a catch-all solution. They also discussed disparities in information and allowance of truck parking across various types of locations.

Trucker Path says its crowd-sourced driver reports on available parking are the best way currently around data limitations. (Photo courtesy of Trucker Path).

Some truck stops may have good, updated data on available parking, but other locations like state-run rest stops may not, Myers tells Fleet Owner, which is why he says Trucker Path's crowd-sourcing is a good gauge.

But should a location have accurate information on parking, perhaps using a system like some airports now do that can indicate exactly which spaces are filled and which are open, "it would be easy to send the information to Trucker Path and allow us to provide the information to our driver community," Myers points out. Rest stops — which he notes may be unmanned at night, when truck parking is most scarce — could present a bigger challenge in terms of providing such "real-time" information.

Myers says the updated crowd-sourced reports and trending are "probably the best and most effective way to get the information to the community" at this point. Another way around data limitations is that when Trucker Path users report on parking availability at a given location, the info is compiled and logged historically to show trends indicating when spaces are available there. As more data may become available, the Trucker Path app will look to add it to the mix. 

"We feel our mission is to help the over-the-road trucker by making his/her life as easy as possible," Myers contends. "We currently receive 15,000 weigh station status updates and 13,000 truck stop parking availability updates daily."

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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