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December 16th, 2009:

Free parking in NYC? There’s an app for that.

broken parking meterWhat better example of the American entrepreneurial spirit than the iPhone app store.  In the year or so that it has been open, tens of thousands of Americans have have come up clever programs to solve almost all of life’s little problems.

Many of these apps—particularly the navigation ones— have been literally life changing for their owners. For instance, I use the New York Times app every day to avoid supporting print journalism (stupid NYT, I would gladly pay for your free app).

But the best app I have seen thus far came out of a civic experiment that New York City embarked on a few months ago. Confident that apps and open data had the potential to improve city life, the Bloomberg administration opened scores of city databases to app developers.

Creative types came up with all kinds of great apps, ranging from ones that let you check the health inspection records of whatever restaurant you’re dining at to apps that allow you to report bad cab drivers from the back seat.

But the best app was one called NYC Broken Meters. It uses city data on broken parking meters in order to help urban drivers find that elusive free parking space.

What could be more American than that?

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