UK parking space data offered up to app developers

Data on parking spaces across the UK is set to be standardised, in the hope that it will make finding and paying for parking easier.

From Thursday, local councils are now able to release parking data in the same format.

This means that apps could potentially collate such data and allow drivers to find spaces before they leave home.

However, one expert said he did not feel this would increase parking payments in town centres.

The government hopes that local councils and companies that publish parking data will switch to the standardised format.

Apps could then gather that data and allow road users to find convenient spaces or pay for their parking online.

Such apps could also highlight the cheapest spaces, or those that are located next to electric car charging points, for example.

The new standards will first be tested in Manchester, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and parts of Essex, where councils will be given a share of a £1m fund for research projects

'Intelligent parking'

"Hunting for a parking space and then checking if you have the right change to pay for it isn't the best start to any shopping experience, but it can be the reality more often than not," said local government minister Rishi Sunak.

"An intelligent parking system will not only make life easier for commuters, but could also improve footfall to our town centres - meaning both people and local businesses benefit."

A government report, published in March, into transport innovation in towns and cities said that new technology could help provide more green spaces by reducing the number of parking spaces.

Announcing the new project, Future of Mobility Minister Michael Ellis said new technologies could bring a transport "revolution" and help make for "cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys."

It was not a given, though, that apps built with the newly standardised data really would revolutionise parking, said Steve Vollar, a parking consultant at consultants Hill Cannon.

People are seldom deterred from driving into a town centre over parking availability, he explained.

He also said there would be privacy concerns: "There will be a lobby who will object to online payment details and knowledge of their movements."