As people worldwide return to driving, finding a parking spot continues to be a challenge, especially in big cities around the world. Hence, this is a good opportunity to ruminate on modernizing parking, with a contactless, touch-free experience powered by Alexa. Let us hear directly from Prasanth Potturi, Sr. Solutions Architect for Alexa Auto about the advancements being made to help make parking even easier.
Walker: Before we dive into the details, how is the parking business different from other on the go services?
Potturi: That is a great question. The parking landscape is unlike other services as it is made up of a variety of players. First, municipalities regulate on-street parking as well as own some off-street lots and garages. Typically, these municipalities set the regulations, prices and handle enforcement. Second, there is off-street private parking, where there are a number of large companies that span particular countries, as well as many more individual small business owners that may own one to five lots. Third, like any digital environment, there are also aggregators, solution providers, system integrators, and software houses that build turn-key solutions for various aspects of the business. As you can see, this is a fragmented marketplace that needs a robust customer experience.
Walker: With all of the fragmentation, there are numerous parking apps available today. What benefits does Alexa bring to the experience?
Potturi: Today, customers have to reach for their phones to navigate the parking apps to find a parking spot which can be quite annoying especially when you are on the go. With Alexa, drivers can keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel while making parking reservations. They can find, book, and securely pay for parking, all without having to reach for the phone or download a variety of apps. This is very helpful when heading to a venue that may be less familiar, or for street parking while driving in a busy downtown area.
Walker: What parking skills are available today?
Potturi: Let me walk you through a few examples from across the globe.
LetMePark helps you find a guaranteed parking spot in cities across Spain. Once you book, you can be rest assured of your parking spot. Just say “Alexa, abre LetMePark” to get started.
Ring Go parking offers booking, reserving, and paying for parking in London, South Western Railway stations and cities across the UK. There is no more need to drag around coins and queue up at parking machines. Just say, “Alexa, ask RingGo to park.”
Walker: I’m thrilled about the expansion of these skills around the globe. What are some of the new features that Amazon launched this year that benefits developers and customers with parking skills?
Potturi: I’ll mention three new features that I’m excited about:
1. Alexa skill resumption [BETA] maintains the progress of the skill while giving customers more time to respond or take an action. With customer permission, the skill can automatically resume when there is an update. For example, the skill could alert the customer that parking will expire in 30 minutes.
2. App to app linking is a feature that allows customers to link to their favorite parking app (with an associated Alexa skill) via the Alexa app with just with a few taps on their mobile device, without having to enter their parking account credentials.
3. Amazon Pay voice permission for Alexa skills allows customers to consent by voice to pay for a transaction through Amazon Pay without having to use their phones to enter a PIN. To use this experience, customers need to grant Amazon Pay permission to the skill and enable Voice Purchasing in their Alexa app.
Walker: In addition to being able to leverage those new features you just mentioned, what other benefits are there for customers and for the parking companies?
Potturi: By modernizing the parking experience with voice, customers will no longer have to pick up their phone to find parking or search for their wallet to book it. Alexa can help orchestrate this experience all through voice making life easier for our customers. In providing a great parking experience for customers, Alexa also provides streamlined monetization avenues for parking companies.