Parking Monkey is a new app that allows city dwellers of the San Francisco area to auction their parking spots from 5 to 20 dollars. The app works like this, once you park your car in San Francisco, something apparently not easy, you can post the location of your spot, when you want to leave and the price of your spot. Then, interested drivers seeking for parking spots access the app and enter the maximum amount they are willing to pay for stop driving around the city and the app offers a map with locations of available parking spots for that price, and if there is competitors, you will have to bid. The app developer profits from taking a commission in the transaction. The platform works basically as other auction sites, like Ebay.
This new business has raised a hot discussion among the people from San Francisco. Virtually, the app is allowing people to profit from unexploited public resources. Before social media, this kind of business was impossible, but modern communication tools, especially social media, allows the interaction of thousands of people at the same time. This allows the creation of marketplaces with services that before were impossible to exploit. In this case, the company argues that the service being sold is information. You can say when are you leaving by a given price and that doesn’t mean that you are selling the spot, but selling your personal info. According to them, it’s even some kind of social service, helping the city with its infernal parking troubles. Of course, this vision is not shared by everybody in San Francisco, especially public authorities that are working in banning the app or, most likely, be them the ones profiting from the parking problems in the bay.
It’s widely accepted that artificially lower prices create shortages, and basically this is what is happening in San Francisco because the government is giving away for free a scarce resource, as they are parking spots. Parking Monkey is just taking advantage of this opportunity window created by the government. What it’s for sure is that in the future, new technologies will create more opportunities out of the control of the government, which will have to learn to react fast.