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App works like magic for city’s drivers

May 16th, 2016 | by Sophie Norris
App works like magic for city’s drivers
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A Third Year Computing student has become another winner of a competition ran by NETV Digital Catapult Centre.

The Parking Fairy, developed by Dylan McKee, aims to help drivers find a parking space in Newcastle’s busy centre, launched on May 9, alongside other winners of a competition set up by North East and Tyne Valley (NETV) Digital Catapult, in partnership with Sunderland Software City.

20 year old McKee created the free app in response to the problem of finding a car parking space in Newcastle City Centre.

To date, it has been downloaded over 400 times.

The app uses open data provided by the North East Combined Authority to learn the driver’s location through geofence technology.

Apps that use similar location-based technology include Google Maps, The Guardian and other news apps, and even dating apps such as Tinder.

The competition was won by three winners, all of whom came up with ideas on how open data could deal with travel problems.

The winners each recieved £5000 funding to develop their ideas into working applications for the Apple iPhone App Store.

Digital Catapult NETV aimed to encourage individuals with ideas to submit them via a form on the Data Movement website, stating that even beginners could put forward their ideas.

McKee has particular expertise in mobile apps.

On the topic of his original idea, he told The Chronicle: “I came up with the idea of The Parking Fairy to offer a simple but smart solution to the problem of struggling to find a parking space when you come into a city.

“Using open data provided by the North East Combined Authority, once you have The Parking Fairy app, it will know your location via geofence technology.

The Digital Catapult Centre, based in Sunderland, working in partnership with Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland, Teeside and Northumbria  universities.

It aims to help digital innovators to bring products to market.

It works with both private and public sectors, universities and the wider North-East software community.

The partnership works largely with businesses from non-technical backgrounds in order to help them use data to promote their work.

The centre will host a Charity Sector Hackathon on May 20 to enable members of that sector to learn how to overcome challenges through the use of data.

McKee’s app also helps you to avoid getting lost in the map of one-way systems in Newcastle and even takes the weather into account.

He said: “The app will also give you directions and prioritises indoor car parks so if it is raining you do not get caught out.”

“I intend to add more features to the app in the future to show which car parks are free after 5pm.

“I’d definitely like to develop more apps in the future too.”

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