A Mobile Application to Find a Parking Space Downtown - By : Louis Coté, Mario Dubois,

A Mobile Application to Find a Parking Space Downtown

Louis Coté
Louis Coté Author profile
Louis Côté is a strategical adviser at ÉTS


In the context of its first edition of the International Summer School on Innovation and Technological Design held at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal during July 2015, a team of eight international students proposed a real time application to find a parking space in a city such as Montreal, taking into account the driver ̉s geolocation. This article will introduce you to the ÉTS Summer School and will detail the team ̉s proposed solution to this problem.

École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal organized and conducted the first edition of its International Summer School on Innovation and Technological Design, in July 2015. The 23  students (16 women, 7 men) came from partner universities and ÉTS. They were from the following 10 countries: Algeria, China (Hong Kong), Costa Rica, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, Singapore and Tunisia.

etudiants SS2015

The group’s first day in Montreal was hosted by a support team from ÉTS.

The Summer School started officially with the “24 hours of innovation” international competition in which some challenges offered (6 out of 20 in the 2015 edition) were identified as eligible for the Summer School. Students who chose these challenges and had been selected for the Summer School then came to Montreal during the whole month of July for a crash course in which they tried to improve their project by learning the methods related to innovation and technological design. From the creative process in which the best ideas are brought to maturity, to rapid prototyping and 3D, up to the innovation process, the students have evolved in a multidisciplinary and intercultural context. In other words, the Summer School has allowed them to structure their approach to go as far as possible in the innovation process. This training was part of a three credit university course in engineering. In addition to the training program, many social and cultural activities were organized in the evenings and on weekends to allow students to get to know each other better while discovering the cities of Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa.

The students had the opportunity to learn from a team of eight teachers that included NASA’s chief scientist on human-centered design. Several lectures were given by companies such as Ubisoft, Nexalogy Environics, GranTuned, Centech, Communautique and échoFab on the challenges of prototyping, Big Data analytics, innovation and entrepreneurship. They had the opportunity to experiment and implement, as early as the first week, their newly acquired knowledge in creativity by rising up to a real challenge proposed by the Mouvement Desjardins (a Cooperative Financial Group).

Design Desjardins1

The first ideation session held at Desjardins.

In response to this challenge, three teams of participants were formed and in a period of two days (about 12 hours), six solutions were presented! Three of them were selected by the Desjardins’ expert panel for possible implementation. Thank you Desjardins for this experience on innovation in the financial sector!

Design Desjardins2

The students’ projects were reviewed, discussed and assessed by a panel of experts from Desjardins, simulating the television show “The Dragon’s Den“.

In addition to the Desjardins challenge, three significant challenges were proposed by the Office of Montreal Smart and Digital City, Stationnement de Montréal (Montreal Parking) and ÉTS professors Mohamed CherietVincent DuchaineRobert Hausler and Mathias Glaus. The professors were supported by ÉTS researchers. These three challenges have led students to design:

  1. a warehouse of products for a business similar to where robots are used to replace workers for repetitive and less attractive tasks (Vincent Duchaine);
  2. an on-demand waste collection system adapted to an autonomous vehicle named « Serpentine » (Robert Hausler et Mathias Glaus);
  3. a mobile application to allow a motorist to easily find a parking space in a downtown area of a major city such as Montreal (Mohamed Cheriet, The Office of Montreal Smart and Digital City and Stationnement de Montréal).


This article presents the application proposed by the Diverscity team to easily find a parking space in a downtown area like the city of Montreal. For drivers of cars and motorcycles, looking for a parking space requires time to meander the streets of the city, wastes energy, pollutes the environment, and creates congestion and a lot of stress. The challenge of this multicultural team (Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tunisia) was to develop the concept of a mobile application for drivers to find a place, in real time, close to their location.

parking app

signalisationMTLFacilitating parking in downtown would also result in reduced risks of delays, accidents, traffic tickets while optimizing the use of existing parking spaces and encourage local merchants. According to data from the city of Montreal, in 2013, 524,000 people roamed the city for a parking spot. During peak hours, 25-30% of the traffic was attributed to drivers looking for a parking spot. In Montreal, 77% of the population owns a smart phone or home computer that can allow them to consult a mobile application dedicated to parking.

This new application could bring all together the current existing applications designed for specific elements associated with parking, such as:

prkngPrkng: An application that allows you to see where and when you can park for free, find garages nearby, and pay directly from your mobile phone. The application tells you, in grey, street segments which are suitable for parking, as well as the exact hours when you can park there. When the deadline approaches, the application sends you an alert. Starting this fall, it will also be possible to reserve a spot and even to pay for a parking space from this free application which will also integrate “garages and private lots”.


Park Catcher: A search engine with a type of interactive map which allows a user to find locations where parking is permitted for a client’s chosen period.

venue prkng

Venue Parking: An application that allows you to book and pay for private parking for a given period.

servicemobileMobile service: An application that allows you to pay the parking rate for the parking spot that your vehicle occupies on the street, with your smart phone, no matter where you are. This application is convenient to remotely extend your parking allowance.


However, all these sites have a common disadvantage: They are not designed to disseminate parking availability in real time. The proposed application called “Parking Montreal” would carry this important feature (see the suggested logo below).

montreal park projectfr

The data could be updated by involving the community, users (in relation to the website application) and the data collected by the city of Montreal.


A better use of parking spaces would increase the City ̉s income, thus enabling it to fund the development and the maintenance of this application.


Following the success of the first edition, the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) will provide another opportunity for Canadian and international students to join in the second edition of its International Summer School on Innovation and Technological Design in the summer of 2016!


Louis Coté

Author's profile

Louis Côté is a strategical adviser at ÉTS

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Mario Dubois

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Field(s) of expertise :

Innovation Management 

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