The University of Colorado at Colorado Spring’s Kraemer Library.

A team of students from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Bachelor of Innovations program recently won first place in the Chapman Launch Labs California Dreamin’ business plan competition, in the “investor presentation” category.

They won for their tech start-up Lot Spot, which collects data about cars entering and leaving parking lots and provides it to Lot Spot clients, Jonathan Winslow wrote for The Orange County Register. The information is presented in a simple format, and can simplify the task of finding a parking space.

The prize was $75,000 in venture capital, $5,000 cash, a $7,000 scholarship to Draper University, and an interview on the program, “Eye on Business.”

UCCS Students on Team

According to UCCS Communique, members of the winning team are: Hunter Berge, a former UCCS student from Colorado Springs; Jessica Garrett, Windsor; Preston Hare, Colorado Springs; and Evan Williams, Colorado Springs, all studying business in the Bachelor of Innovation program. Other team members are Matt Keith, Colorado Springs, a local software developer; Connor McCormick, Lakewood, studying marketing and business in the Bachelor of Innovation program; and Josh Vanderbilt, Colorado Springs, a former UCCS student.

On Lot Spot’s website, Jeromy Stewart, UCCS parking manager, said:

Parking at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs has always been a mess. There is traffic at all times of day, and parking is very limited. Lot Spot has not only given me the data necessary to direct traffic and make decisions on future expansion, but has also changed the behavior of the students. With their mobile app, students are now going directly to open lots instead of circling around the lot trying to get luck[y]. Mobile app marketing played a huge factor in the succes of this project, being students they had many tools to promote internally within the school system, that really helped the initial phase.

Parking Lot Safety

Parking lots are the site of many vehicle accidents, and pedestrians, especially, are at risk of being hurt. An AAA Mid-Atlantic study found that parking lot accidents in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the first eight months of 2013 comprised 30% of pedestrian accidents, a number higher than the comparable eight months in 2008, Steven Tshida reported for WJLA.

Across the county, a fifth of all vehicle accidents take place in the parking lots of shopping centers, shopping malls, big box stores, and supermarkets. This is partly due to blind spots and inadequate lighting. As John Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman, told Tshida, “These places can be fraught with danger because it’s like a no-man’s land.” Montgomery County, one of the only counties in the U.S. with data on parking lot accidents, had a 34% increase in collisions between vehicles and pedestrians in 2012.

The most common way for trucks to be damaged is in parking lot accidents, according to Automotive Fleet. That publication quotes Beth Stamer (now retired), who was director of Eli Lilly’s global health safety and environment, as saying the large pharmaceutical company trains its drivers to be calm and aware of vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles when entering a parking lot.

The website atpins.com implores people to report parking lots whose layout is “radically wrong.” If changes are made to the defective parking, it will help reduce the number of accidents and injuries. However, it is entirely possible — and even likely — that parking lot accidents are due less to bad design than to the fact that people are so involved in their own thoughts (or distracted driving behavior) that they do not notice what is happening around their cars.

Image by Dwillsey, in the public domain.

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