a smart transportation project aims solving parking
problems in urban cities
In many urban cities, parking is an important yet problematic task. In high-traffic areas such as the downtown Toronto core, many drivers struggle to find available parking. Moreover, it is difficult for drivers to compare parking rates between nearby parking spaces.
Thus, we propose an app called Parking X that features real-time mapping of available parking spaces and respective prices; online parking reservation and online payment; the monitoring of the remaining time of the reservation; and a “Favorite Parking Area” by analyzing the user’s parking history.
EARLY STAGE DESIGN
For the conceptual model, we are using the central processing unit as a metaphor to organize information. Key information (e.g., maps, parking rates) is pulled from various data sources to a centralized location to carry out an operation as specified by the user. The system is “smart” because data is collected from multiple data sources (e.g., City of Toronto, private parking companies) to a central cloud database and pushed to end-user platforms. Information from the desktop and smartphone are synchronous, while the smartphone can only sync information with the smartphone via Bluetooth.
The main concepts the system exposes to users are:
Maps (with attributes: parking info, lot availability, nearest subway, search, navigation)
User account (with attributes: name, favorite parking areas)
Reservation (with attributes: date/time, spot selection)
Payment (with attributes: payment information, billing address)
Efficiency: Clear user interface and personalized features to shorten the average task completion time.
Learnability: Clean and intuitive user interface based on city maps (for a match in mental model) to help users get started quickly.
Memorability: A simple process to reserve/pay for parking will help users to remember how to use the app even after a substantial time-lapse between uses.
It is 7:00am on Tuesday and Alex is getting ready to go to work at RBC. He drives the same route to work every morning so he is familiar with the route. However, his workplace is in the middle of downtown and he knows that traffic congestion is usually heavy during morning peak hours. As a frequent user of the system, Alex already has his credit card and vehicle information saved on his account. This allows him to reserve and pay for a parking spot in a few easy steps. There is an underground parking garage next to his workplace but parking is not always available. To ease his mind and save himself time later, he uses the system on his smartphone to search for available parking spots at the parking garage next to his workplace. After selecting a preferred spot and the parking time he would like to reserve, the system prompts him for payment confirmation.
To better our users and their needs, a survey was created and distributed online. Convenience sampling was employed because of the time constraint. The survey included questions on respondents’ driving habits, parking experiences, previous experience of using existing parking apps, current frustration with looking and paying for parking After a careful analysis on the survey result, a user persona was created.
Alex verifies his credit card information is correct and the request is sent to the system. After the successful completion of payment, a QR code is generated and synchronized with his smartwatch, which has a smartwatch-optimized version of the system installed. After he drives to the parking garage, he opens the QR code on his smartwatch and scans it on the QR scanner at the parking machine, successfully completing the reservation process.
After hand drawing the wireframes, we have decided to transform our sketches into medium fidelity clickable prototypes by using Balsamiq Mockups 3. We chose to use Balasamiq becuase it is less time consuming, and easy to make revises after user heuristic evaluation. Based on the result we received from participants, we tackled some issues in the prototypes, for examples, added “Reservations History” as a menu item; changed unavailable parking lot message page; added “Back” button on selecting parking spot page; added “Money” sign on all screens; added “Reserve” button on “My Favourite Parking Lot” page; Added the responsive design page; Added “forgot password” page for alternate login path; Added language options on the homepagechanges were made. Now, all the functions in the system across three platforms (e.g. desktop, smartphone, smart watch) are displayed on three interactive pdf files. If you are interested in seeing how our apps work, you are welcome to download the prototypes.
The changes we made
after heuristic evaluation
Choose a platform to download interactive prototypes
For our high fidelity prototypes, we have decided to use Axure RP. We chose to use Axure RP becuase it is the best mockup tool in terms of making vivid interactions. They will soon be aviliable for all three platforms, but for now it's only aviliable on Apple Watch. If you are interested in seeing the high fidelity prototypes, you are welcome to click on the watch icon below to download the prototypes.
Choose a platform to try hi-fi prototypes
Participants: four full-time graduate students who drive to school and park on/near campus every day, or part-time students who experience parking problems around their workplace during rush hours. They were selected by convenience sampling which was necessary given the constraints of the time allotted.
The Goal: to determine the overall usability of the prototypes across desktop, mobile phone and smartwatch platforms. Testers wanted to ascertain elements needed to be re-imagined and elements to be kept.
The Methods: The triangulation methods (direct observation, face-to-face interview and survey questionnaire) were used as our evaluation technique.
A totall of 16 elements were fixed after the test session
8 of them were identified by users/participants
17 new functional requirements were added
1 was identified by UX expert
7 of them were brainstormed by the team
Acknowledgement: great thanks to everyone in my team, this project can not be done without their timeless dedication