App reserves parking spaces for the disabled

Q Systems SA owner Heinrich Williams has developed an app which will reserve the parking space for the disabled.
Q Systems SA owner Heinrich Williams has developed an app which will reserve the parking space for the disabled.
Image: SUPPLIED

SA inventor confident of success in pilot phase. A Port Elizabeth innovator has come up with a unique system that will put a stop to motorists misusing parking spaces reserved for disabled persons.

If the innovation proves successful during a pilot phase, Q Systems SA owner Heinrich Williams hopes it will become a standard practice nationally.

The system, called QPark, took Williams nearly four years to develop and offers two options to protect disabled people's rights.

The first option entails a traffic light that turns yellow when a vehicle pulls into the space. The user then has a brief time in which to log into the QPark smartphone app, but if the motorist is not a registered user, a siren will sound to indicate it.

Another system is a foot-high barrier in the parking space, which can only be lowered by using the app.

The app would also allow visitors unfamiliar with the city to find a map of available parking spaces reserved for them.

Williams said disabled people will be registered on the app with the help of the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities' database.

"Change management will be critical to the success of the system," said Williams. "We would need to educate users on how the system will work."

Williams, who is in a wheelchair himself, came up with the idea because he was frustrated by people misusing parking spaces allocated to disabled people.

"I had a background in the automotive industry so I knew it was possible to resolve the issue. I approached the Nelson Mandela University to develop a proof of concept.

"There are still a couple of small things to tweak, but the system is working without major hiccups."

The next step is to roll out a pilot phase of 40 parking bays, though Williams is still looking for retailers to come on board.

"The landlords would be paying for the system, and the idea is to run the pilot phase over a year and see how the public accepts it. We want to roll out both options of the system to see which one the public embraces more.

"The reception for the concept [by the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities] was positive. If the next phase is successful - which I believe it will be - it could be accepted as the national standard for disabled parking spaces."

He also hopes to expand the scope of the project. "The initial idea was for disabled parking spaces, but as we develop the system we identify other markets. It could also be used for emergency vehicle spaces, loading zones and perhaps even bus lanes - but this is the right avenue to start the process.

"Nothing else like this exists. If we can find a solution, I am sure we can grow it beyond South Africa."

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