- AirGarage, a marketplace that links homeowners or commercial properties that have unused parking spaces with drivers looking for a parking spot, won the third Phoenix Smart City Hack competition, according to Phoenix Business Journal.
- The startup was launched by two Arizona State University students who were awarded with $3,000 and a trip to Barcelona to represent Arizona in the international Smart City Hack competition.
- Six other startups joined AirGarage in the finals. IoT Supercomputer, a platform capable of harnessing idle CPUs across the internet to turn idle computers into supercomputers, took second place. Life 365, a kit distribution service that connects hospital resources to the home, took third.
The Ideathon challenge was announced in June, calling on innovators with focuses on transportation, health, education and sustainability. Competitors had fairly large shoes to fill — the winners of the previous years' Hacks were Grand Canyon University startup Storage Together, a mobile app that connects homeowners with extra storage space to people who need it, and ParkX, a parking payment startup that began at University of Arizona and was eventually acquired by Passport Inc.
As evidenced by the three winners of this competition, events like Smart City Hack give students the opportunity to showcase ideas in a high-profile setting where opportunities for engagement are higher than they would be elsewhere. ParkX, for instance, began as a four-person operation called Park Genius, only to be successfully acquired and expanded to 2,000 locations thanks to the Hack exposure. It is likely that following this year's competition, AirGarage will grow in a way that two students may not have had the capacity to achieve on their own.
The objective of AirGarage — to provide affordable parking in congested areas — addresses a problem that is troubling cities nationwide, and the solution is one that falls in line with a bigger smart city trend of utilizing shared space. As demonstrated with apps like Storage Together or ride-share services, optimizing available space is becoming increasingly crucial, especially in the wake of growing populations.