Someone Invented An AI App To Help Understand Montreal Parking Signs

Finally, technology has advanced enough to make sense of Montreal parking. ➡️🚗⬅️

Senior Editor
Montreal parking signs.

Montreal parking signs.

Sometimes, Montreal parking signs are like an alien tome: too confusing and seemingly contradictory for the feeble human mind to decipher. But now, technology has finally advanced enough to give us mere anthropoids the means to unveil their hidden meaning.

A free new app, Parky.AI, makes use of artificial intelligence to quickly read parking signs and tell users if parking is permitted at a given time. It's now available for download on the app store.

Users don't need to create an account or share their location. The app simply prompts them to take a photo of a single or group of parking signs. Drivers can block out signs that don't apply to their situation. The app generates a response in a few seconds, either "yes" parking is allowed or "no" it's not.

The inspiration for Parky came — unsurprisingly — from the developer's personal experience.

"Back in March, I received a parking ticket even though I was convinced that I had correctly interpreted the parking signs," Joseph Zitara, Chief Technical Officer of Underlabs, the company that produced the app, told MTL Blog.

"What I realized was, I had only focused on the weekdays and time range on one sign, but the sign that actually applied to me, considering the month range, was another one below it. It was an oversight, but one that I found was quite common among drivers."

He pointed to Montreal's practice of using multiple signs for a single zone, often stacking them on single or neighbouring poles.

"With the advancements in artificial intelligence, I thought, why not use this technology to help drivers navigate the labyrinth of parking regulations?"

He hopes the app will reduce parking stress and the financial burden of tickets on both residents and visitors, alike.

Parky.AI isn't yet infallible, however. Zitara says so far, it's only about 83% accurate when reading one or two signs, and 74% accurate when reading three or four. But it's learning. A message on the app says every photo helps perfect the AI's responses. Users can also report errors.

The developers further warn that drivers shouldn't rely on Parky.AI, alone, to navigate parking restrictions. They encourage everyone to double-check local rules, themselves.

It's nevertheless one tool to help, in Zitara's words, "take the guesswork out of parking in Montreal."

"It's about making city parking more accessible and less stressful for everyone, and leveraging technology to do so."

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.