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updated: 3/15/2010 6:58 AM

New iPhone app helps drivers find parking downtown

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  • Nick Capizzani's iPhone application helps people find the cheapest parking options in Chicago. It also alerts those parked on the street when their meter is about to expire and provides directions to get back to the car.

      Nick Capizzani's iPhone application helps people find the cheapest parking options in Chicago. It also alerts those parked on the street when their meter is about to expire and provides directions to get back to the car.
    Courtesy Nick Capizzani

 
 

Trouble finding affordable parking in Chicago?

There's an app for that, and it was created by a college student from the suburbs.

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Nick Capizzani, 23, of Plainfield, has combined his knowledge of computers and his love of visiting Chicago into a tool he hopes will help iPhone users driving around the Windy City.

"The economy is not the greatest so wherever people can save money would be awesome," said Capizzani, a senior at Purdue University.

After attending a lecture on campus by Steve Hayman, a consulting engineer with Apple, Capizzani knew he wanted to produce his own iPhone application - but one that would be more useful than a game.

Designing the "Chicago Parking" iPhone application took about three or four months of computer coding and calling parking companies to determine their rates.

The new app gives users the hourly, daily and monthly rates for more than 300 garages in Chicago and users can search for the garages closest to their destination.

It also shows the location of every parking pay box in the city, a feature that was especially time consuming considering Capizzani had to convert the address of each of more than 4,000 boxes into a latitude and longitude when creating the program.

The app also has a feature to alert drivers parked on the street when their parking meter is about to expire and will give them directions to get back to their car.

Capizzani hopes the application not only will help people find the cheapest parking options, but will make parking companies think twice about their rates when they know drivers can easily compare.

"If people know what the rates are, they want to stay competitive with other garages so they would probably lower their rates which is good for everyone," Capizzani said.

Apple approved the new app - priced at $1.99 - about a week ago and already more than 300 people have downloaded it. Capizzani gets 70 percent of the profits.

Eventually he hopes to offer garages a premium feature allowing them to advertise through his app.

To preview and download the app visit chicagoparkingapp.com.

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