Nokia tries ‘you show me yours, I’ll show you mine’ for parking data

The next time you’re driving endlessly around the block wondering if there’s a spot open a couple blocks over, consider how much you’d be willing to pay for that type of information. If the answer is “nothing,” you’re in luck — because a new system developed by the Nokia Research Center doesn’t want your money. It just wants a little bit of your time, effort and information.

Called TruCentive,  and highlighted in a post on the New Scientist blog Thursday morning, the software works like a bartering system of sorts for information on open parking spots. The more information users share about open spaces, the more credits they get for information on parking spots when they’re in need. And the more valuable the data users share (e.g., crowded downtown areas are worth more than the ‘burbs), the more credits they receive.

The credit system is a particularly smart idea in a world where citizens don’t always get value in return for their troubles. The thinking behind TruCentive is to encourage use of the system by rewarding citizens’ efforts, as opposed to similar crowdsourced parking apps that rely on citizen participation but have neither a carrot nor a stick at their disposal, according to the New Scientist post. Active users can be assured they’re getting special treatment in return for the data they share, while parasitic users will have to contribute or keep getting lower-quality information.

As I’ve suggested before, actually rewarding users for desired behavior might also work in the realm of web apps, where companies such as Facebook (s fb) require more data to keep services free, but users don’t want to sacrifice their privacy. Even if data exchange is a largely a one-way street, there has to be a quid pro quo in there somewhere.

A screenshot of Xerox parking software.

To me, however, the greatest aspect of a system like TruCentive might be its marriage, if possible, to other parking projects such as Xerox’s ExpressPark(s xrx). Although the parking revolution is just getting underway, the (hopefully) forthcoming combination of smart parking meters, crowdsourced data on other spots and predictive models should save commuters time, clear congestion and generally improve everyone’s lives. Maybe even pedestrians can reap the rewards — the more confident drivers are there’ll be a spot waiting for them in a particular location, the less they have to stare at a device searching for one.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user Felix Mizioznikov.