Catch 'Criminals' Parked in Handicapped Spots With This

You're walking through a parking lot, and to your disbelieving eyes, some slimy-looking Patrick Bateman type who's chatting up a storm on his Bluetooth headset pulls his BMW into a space right in front of the store entrance. Problem is, it's a handicapped spot, and the guy clearly doesn't have the right plate or placard. Not that he cares—he's breezing through the front door on his way to the Stella Artois.

What to do? As it turns out, when it comes to handicapped parking-related douchebaggery, there's an app for that.


The app (which runs on iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android) is called Parking Mobility, and its purpose is to provide everyday citizens with a super-easy way to report parking violations. You start the app, take three specific photos of the offending vehicle ... and that's pretty much all you have to do. Parking Mobility automatically adds data like time, date, street address, and GPS coordinates, then submits the report to city officials. Participating cities then issue and mail a ticket to the vehicle’s owner—and 20 percent of the fine goes to your charity of choice, as the person who reported the offense.

Here's a video that explains how it all works:

Sounds like a great idea, right? Yet I can't help feeling weirded out by the concept of mobile-app-empowered vigilantes, patrolling the streets with smartphones in hand. I mean, I definitely agree that people who abuse handicapped spaces should be fined, because that is seriously just SUCH a dick move, but what might be next on this slippery slope? People reporting parents for disciplining their children in public? Drivers snapping photos of people running yellow lights? Someone caught on camera for abusing the NO REFILLS policy at a fast food restaurant?

Plus, it seems like this method is flawed by the very technology that enables it. It's ridiculously easy to alter digital photos these days, even by using simple smartphone apps. How can random cellphone photos be considered reliable legal evidence? Couldn't you just paste in a picture of your evil coworker's car in order to have a $300 parking violation ticket mailed his way?

Even though it makes me a little uncomfortable and doesn't exactly seem foolproof, the Parking Mobility app is certainly an interesting approach to the problem of handicapped space violators. It seems to be successful in the cities that are using it, too—the company says that when people see photos of their car parked illegally, 82 percent pay up and don't bother trying to dispute the fine.

What do you think of this app? Are you in favor of being able to report people's parking violations?

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