(CBS SF) — A new app lets annoyed cyclists or drivers harness the power of crowdsourcing to report illegally parked cars.
“We’re not out here to ruin people’s lives or tow people endlessly,” Michael McArthur, co-founder of Toronto-based TowIt, told Fast Company.”It’s all a behavioral shift to make our societies function better. Really, we just want people to think about how their actions are impacting others.”
McArthur and his business partner came up with the idea after a new Toronto mayor had come into office along with a towing initiative for cracking down on illegally parked cars clogging up streets. The team wanted to integrate a tech component to make it more efficient for reporting and removing those cars with the help of traffic cops and towing companies.
But traffic laws vary from city to city, and since launching the startup earlier this year, it’s taken some time to coordinate with city governments. In the meantime, the app, available on Android and iOS, lets anyone post a photo and shame drivers double-parked in bike lines or in rush hour routes.
The startup is starting with Toronto where police currently have to show up in person, ticket a car and wait for a tow truck to arrive. It’s a process that requires tremendous resources and time. The goal is to bypass most of those steps by allowing a remote traffic cop to look at submitted photos of illegally parked cars and determine whether or not they should call a towing company.
The app is currently available in only a handful of cities, with it recently popping up in San Francisco.