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Online parking program wins Phoenix’s first App Hack competition, next round in Spain

(Cronkite News Photo/Jacqueline Padilla)

ParkX has won Phoenix’s Smart City App Hack competition and will represent the city at the global competition in Barcelona, Spain, in November.

Officials announced the winner at an event Thursday night. It was the first city-sponsored competition that identifies budding apps designed to positively impact the community.

“We wanted to participate in the Phoenix technology ecosystem,” ParkX co-founder Austin Weiss said. “This is something that we thought we could get out there, get the word out about ParkX and really compete in a fun, collaborative way.”

ParkX, formerly known as Park Genius, allows users to pay for parking via their smartphone. It’s a payment solution for drivers who don’t carry cash and need to park at cash-only lots or at meters. To use the app, users need to enter their debit or credit card information, parking spot number, license plate and duration.

Joe Katarski, who owns a parking lot downtown, partnered with ParkX.

“More and more, people are asking if we accept credit cards, and I’m getting sick and tired of telling them that we don’t,” he said.

Thomas McGuire, Ross Shanken, Wyatt Richardson and Weiss founded the Tucson startup.

“We just hope that we can make people’s lives easier when they come down and park,” Weiss said. “(Motorists are) not looking to park, they’re looking to do something after they park.”

The Smart City App Hack is an international program focused on the development of apps that address challenges in cities, according to its website.

The four other finalists,according to the city of Phoenix, were:

• Synergy AZ: A platform that connects volunteers with projects. The app helps improve the Phoenix metro community by providing residents a network of people to assist with their civic projects.

• HER: Self-described as “Amazon meets Siri,” this app uses software that can comprehend language patterns. The result is allowing users to shop, buy and text via voice on any smartphone device.

• Bloodhound: To help those who suffer dementia or diseases that may affect the brain, Bloodhound serves as a way to return them safely home. Using Bluetooth enabled gadget, it sends an alert to app users that a missing person is nearby.

• Bus Plus: The app may help bus commuters in the Valley better plan their day. Each public bus will be tracked a mile away, allowing users to view detailed information about its route, speed and number.

Cronkite News’ Jacqueline Padilla, Lynnie Nguyen and Lauren Clark contributed to this report.

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