Martorell, 20/11/2015. - “We’ve been driving around for a quarter of an hour looking for somewhere to park and there’s no way; we can’t find anything”. Hundreds of thousands of people make this sort of complaint on a daily basis in large cities. In fact, most people spend “an average of 20 minutes to find street parking in Europe’s main cities”, explains Jordi Caus, who is responsible for New Projects on Alternative Mobility at SEAT.

But there is more data involved. At any given time, 30% on average of Europeans driving in cities are looking for a place to park. This challenge will be even greater in the future, as a UN report points to 66% of the world population living in urban areas by 2050, which will result in “more vehicles on city roads, more traffic congestion and ultimately, more parking problems”, says Jordi Ortuño, Barcelona Council Smart Cities project coordinator.

In an attempt to curb this problem, SEAT has developed the Parkfinder app, which indicates where there is available street parking thanks to data gathered via Barcelona’s iCity platform. Drivers simply enter where they are headed, or once at their location, ask the app where there is available parking. This is a pilot test being carried out in the Les Corts neighbourhood after an agreement was struck with the Barcelona Council, but the more ambitious goal is for this app to perform many other functions.

New technologies will not focus solely on solving parking problems – there are many other important challenges ahead in the field of urban mobility. One of these is to prevent traffic congestion, “by getting cars to spread out on several city streets before any arteries get clogged”, says Jordi Caus. “In the near future we should be able to achieve much more efficient urban mobility. That’s what we’re working on – getting driving to be much more relaxed, safer and more economical as well”, he concludes.