May 19, 2013, Updated May 22, 2013

Parking your car in the Big Apple and other large US cities is not only expensive but also time consuming. You can circle the block many times before finding a vacant spot on the street or in a parking garage.

Well, now there’s an app for that, thanks to Israeli company MobyDom, the world’s first pay-by-mobile-phone parking solution.

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MobyDom’s Pango lets users locate, book and pay for parking spots via smartphone. PangoUSA currently gives access to about 15,000 parking spots throughout New York City’s parking garages; 5,000 spaces in Phoenix, Arizona; 1,250 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania; and 1,000 in Auburn, New York. It will soon launch in other large cities in New York and Pennsylvania, PangoUSA President Neil Edwards tells ISRAEL21c.

The company makes money by taking a small percentage of the parking transaction.

MobyDom was founded in 2004 but the technology was launched in 2006. Back then it allowed Israeli drivers to pay for metered parking using SMS messaging. The system let drivers update their “virtual meter” in a remote location, paying for the actual time needed. City parking enforcers got messages with the license plate numbers of those who paid.

Today Pango has evolved with the times into an app that communicates using the standard data communications plan on your mobile phone.

Just tap and park.
Just tap and park.

Much has changed since the early days when Pango first launched in Israel, Edwards notes. “We continue to add new features every month that our consumers or parking operators request. Features such as GPS in the app, different payment types beyond parking meters, social media, maps, better voice recognition, and local coupons — to name a few.”

How it works

Open the app, choose your location, choose your parking zone or gate, then select “start parking” followed by “end parking” when your spot has been booked. The app uses either the 3/4G network or SMS, depending upon your type of phone. “It is really simple,” says Edwards.

In New York City, PangoUSA is partnering with Imperial Parking, the largest privately owned garage company in the city. Imperial provides a valet-based parking service in 110 locations. Pango even helps cut down precious minutes retrieving the car because the user can order the car, via phone, to be brought to a desired location at a specific time.

Bill Learner, president of Imperial Parking Systems, stated: “Car parking services have not changed since the invention of the auto. Pango is also providing me with a direct link to communicate with my parker – something I have never had before.”

Pango can work in a variety of creative ways, even at metered parking spaces and private garages.

Neil Edwards, president of PangoUSA: “We continue to add new features every month that our consumers or parking operators request.”
Neil Edwards, president of PangoUSA: “We continue to add new features every month that our consumers or parking operators request.”

In Phoenix, Pango is linked with Red Development’s CityScape, a 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use urban project with 50 retailers, commercial office towers and a hotel. Visitors to CityScape can use the app to pay for parking, open and close garage gates, validate their parking stub from retailers, and receive coupons to shop.

Says Edwards: “Most garages have Internet running to their gates today. So, we communicate with the parking gates using their Internet connection. We do not often find signal strength for the mobile to be an issue. When signal strength is low, then we install a signal booster in the parking garage.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says Pango “will make it easier for people to park downtown and it is a great example of how innovation is creating a great urban core.”

Edwards heads a team of five at PangoUSA headquarters in Manhattan. Teams of 15 each work in Israeli and German locations.

MobyDom is connected to nearly 90 percent of the metered parking spaces in Israel. Globally the company operates in 47 cities, with one million active accounts and two million transactions each month.

“We are introducing new types of payments and local coupons,” says Edwards. “Parking is part of everyday life for a driver, and Pango is one of those apps that helps your everyday life become much more convenient.”

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Jason Harris

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