Biz Alumni 05 April 2016

The car park whisperer

In space-constrained Singapore where the ratio of cars to citizens is roughly 1 to 10, finding parking lots can be a time-consuming exercise for motorists who have to spend time searching for available spaces or queuing outside car park entrances.

But Neil Mehta (MBA 2015) believes his SurePark parking platform can solve the problem. SurePark involves palm-sized sensors that are placed on the ground of every lot detect the presence of vehicles.  These sensors feed data into the software platform to generate reports on the availability of the car park spaces.

Neil Mehta (middle) with his engineers and car sensors

Neil Mehta (middle) with his engineers and car sensors

Users can then access the information via the SurePark app, which also serves as a navigational guide to lead the motorist to the exact vacant slot. The app is also able to suggest alternative parking spaces in nearby car parks when the destination’s car park is full.

“All you need to do is put your end destination in the SurePark app. We’re hoping to effectively solve a genuine problem that almost everyone faces across the world,” said Neil.

Neil and his team are currently testing the platform at the basement car park of the Mochtar Riady Building and the AS5 car park at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences.

The testing process has unveiled some unique challenges. For instance, the engineers realised drivers would drive over and damage the sensors even when they are placed in the middle of parking lots.  As a result, the team is exploring the use of more robust materials for the sensors that can withstand the weight of a vehicle.

SurePark started out just as an app during a coding competition organised by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2012. The app quickly evolved into a business idea around the same time Neil joined NUS as an MBA student.  He used the opportunity to bounce ideas about SurePark off the faculty and peers for his growing venture.

He acknowledges the help provided by Douglas Abrams, Adjunct Associate Professor from the Department of Strategy & Policy in building the business plan for SurePark, and Lillian Cheng, Adjunct Lecturer from the Department of Marketing on formulating prices.

In the near future, Neil is looking to introduce features such as reservation of parking lots. The data collected by SurePark’s sensors goes to the LTA as data intelligence to handle traffic congestion. Neil says planners at the agency are looking to use information such as the frequency of cars coming in and out of car parks at any given time to adjust carpark pricing.