It is a universal truth that parking will almost always be a living nightmare that will ruin your day — but Google knows this too, and it’s trying to help. A new feature in the Google Maps app will let drivers check out how abysmal parking is at their destination, based on “historical parking data,” i.e., the pain and suffering of previous users.
In 25 major metro areas across the United States, Google will now be able to tell you about the parking you’re likely to encounter when you arrive. The feature, launched January 26, takes advantage of the massive amount of data that Google gathers from its users. Right now it’s mostly useful as a heads up in planning your trip, as it isn’t updated in real-time.
To determine historical parking data, Google is using data from people who opted into Google Location History. This is the same sort of system it uses for things like popular visit times for restaurants and grocery stores. By gathering this data, Google can tell how long drivers had to circle around a block slowly to find a parking place – and can give you average wait times based on time of day and typical traffic patterns.
According to the announcement, the parking difficulty feature will be available in: San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland, and Sacramento.
The feature will let you know about parking in a range, using an icon to indicate of parking is easy, medium, or limited. Google isn’t updating parking information in real time, like it does for traffic, so it’s not going to give you a heads up if there are snow banks covering all the parking spaces because the plow just went through. However, knowing that it normally takes 25 minutes to find a parking place near the location of your interview is definitely a good starting point until autonomous cars make parking obsolete.