By Conor Forrest
KILDARE Co Council is to investigate piloting the SpaceFinder service to help disabled drivers find parking spaces via an app.
Kildare-Newbridge MD councillor Peggy O’Dwyer proposed the piloting of the service in the Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District.
She was informed that the council’s Parking Department will investigate the possibility of providing this service as part of the current services across the county.
It was a timely motion given that Kildare Disability Week recently took place between 29 November and 3 December, with a number of new initiatives launched by the council.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place on Friday 3 December, with this year’s theme ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid 19 world’.
At the beginning of December, Limerick City and County Council was the first local authority in Ireland to begin using the SpaceFinder Service, which has been developed by Limerick firm ParkMagic. Its traffic department installed small sensors at accessible parking bays in its city centre business district. Information from these sensors provides real-time updates on the SpaceFinder and Limerick eParking apps about the occupancy status of that space.
The SpaceFinder app is available on Apple and Android and disabled drivers can use the app to locate a vacant accessible bay in their area. In-car navigation to the driver’s chosen available space is available in Apple Carplay, with Android Auto support arriving in early 2022.
Limerick City and County Council said the SpaceFinder system will enable local authorities – for the first time ever – to collect real-time information on accessible bay usage and turnover, adding that such data would be ‘key’ in planning the provision and location of accessible spaces in the future.
Richard Ryder, Communications Manager, Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland, said: “For many of our members and others in the disabled driver community, finding an available accessible parking bay can be an incredibly difficult, time-consuming and frustrating experience. Often, it can mean a lot of searching and in some cases, a wasted journey as the driver is forced to return home and try again later.
“A service like SpaceFinder that gives real-time information on accessible parking bays in cities and towns across Ireland would be a huge boost, and we would ask local authorities to give serious consideration to this excellent initiative.”