Years ago, I was standing on a Manhattan street corner, waiting on the car service to take me to the airport. A colleague who’d attended the same conference said, “Why are you waiting out here? Just use Uber.” After my blank stare, she was inclined to explain about this little app on your phone that lets you call a car at the touch of a finger, then went on at length to explain all the merits of the new system. She even tried to take my phone from me and download the app so I would never again have to wait for a car.
There’s just one problem. I don’t live in Manhattan. There are no car services or taxis or freelance drivers where I live. Therefore, Uber isn’t going to be much help to me.
Uber meets a great need for a lot of people in a lot of different places, but it’s a shining example of the kind of day-to-day innovation that isn’t changing the way of life for more people than it is helping. That’s why app developers who are working to change our everyday habits are looking at the bigger picture.
Meterfeeder is one such app, and it’s designed to help drivers and city governments alike by updating a system that has changed very little since it was first created. By allowing those who park at a meter to pay with a stored credit card through the app (much like the aforementioned Uber) rather than dig around for the right amount of change, drivers are spared the potential for a parking ticket and cities benefit from the paid fees–rather than being stiffed by drivers who will take their chances that an officer doesn’t happen to come by. Even better, the app warns the driver when his meter is about to expire, giving him the opportunity to renew the fare or move his vehicle.
Even better, this app allows cities to take advantage of the new system and collect much-needed funds without having to undo their existing meters and invest in payment kiosks. For now, Meterfeeder is keeping its business and its clients small as it grows, but it is working towards expanding to major metropolitan areas, something that works in reverse of the “they don’t have Uber where I live” marketplace.