Story by Lindsey Coleman, Staff writer
Overcrowded, hectic campus parking lots may have finally met their match: two graduating seniors and Murray natives who sought to slay rush hour parking dilemmas with a website project.
Computer science majors John Lollar and Jason Spann are in the process of developing a program tentatively called Parking Pal, which, if implemented, will allow students and faculty to see how many parking spots are available in lots on campus.
“I thought of this idea last year, just because it was a pain to park around campus during busy hours, as every commuter knows,” Spann said.
Francie Ray, parking supervisor at Murray State Parking Services, said there has not been any type of commitment discussed regarding implementation at Murray State, but she has met with Lollar and Spann about the project. She said she assisted them with ideas and provided them with a copy of the Murray State parking maps.
“We met with her and had a meeting for a couple hours,” Lollar said. “She seemed pretty optimistic and liked the idea and wanted us to keep moving forward with it. She thought it could potentially go somewhere.”
Lollar said ideally, if Murray State chooses to adopt the program, it would be in place next year, but the project is still in the beginning phases until they can test more lots.
Spann said the student app will potentially show all the parking lots on campus. Users will be able to filter results based on parking pass color, proximity to certain buildings and how many spots are left.
Spann said readers that use radio frequency identification technology would be placed at entrances and exits of parking lots. Each parking pass will have a tag on it. When a car enters the lot, the tag is picked up on the reader, the info will be sent to the server and it will add them to the parking lot. When they drive out, they will be removed.
The readers cost $1,500, and the tags cost 50 cents.
“When we talked to Francie, she said she has looked at ways to solve this issue for a while now, and all the other commercial options have been way too expensive.” Lollar said. “I think that was one of the things she liked about ours – is that is seemed to be more cost-efficient.”
Lollar and Spann are in assistant professor Stanley Jointer’s CSC 530 senior capstone class. Jointer said the course is project-based, and as part of their projects, he encourages students to seek out real-world issues, solve them and seek to commercialize the work they’ve completed.
Jointer said Lollar and Spann have been in several of his classes over the past few years.
“Both are among the best in the department, and their parking app shows the ingenuity and intelligence that I’ve witnessed from them over the years,” Jointer said. “I eagerly anticipate their success, be it in this endeavor or another.”