Mercedes-Benz wants to reduce the likelihood of owners walking back to a broken window or, worse, an empty parking spot. It’s developing an app-based in-car technology that suggests safe areas to park in by analyzing crime rate data. The function could become available in the United States in the not-too-distant future.
Markus Ehmann, a software developer for the brand, told Australian website Drive that the app consults open police records to analyze the number of crimes reported in a given area in the weeks before a motorist considers parking there. The list of crimes it’s looking for includes violent offenses such as vandalism (e.g., a broken window or a stolen set of AMG alloy wheels), car theft, and assault.
Providing accurate parking information requires receiving up-to-the-minute information from the local police department. The developer suggested Mercedes has started testing the function in the Seattle area. “We took open data from the city of Seattle and compared that with data from parking spaces at your target location,” he told Drive. Once it knows the kind of area the car is in, the app then classifies parking spaces via a color-coding system.
“Green indicates that the area is very safe, so we suggest you park there. Yellow means ‘it’s still OK, but consider going to a green one,’ and red is ‘you don’t want to go there,'” Ehmann explained. This information is displayed directly on the car’s touchscreen.
In addition to crime-vetted parking suggestions, the navigation system will also provide useful information such as the walking distance to the user’s final destination and the cost of parking in a given area. What it won’t list is the type of crime detected around a parking spot; it’s not going to tell you “turn around; this block looked like that tank mission from Grand Theft Auto V last weekend.”
Ehmann stressed the function is still under development and it hasn’t been approved for public use yet. When it’s ready, it could be offered as a stand-alone app that motorists will need to buy through the Mercedes app store. Crime-related data is highly sensitive, and not every government is ready to hand it over to a car manufacturer, so don’t expect the feature to be available globally. The United States would be one of the main target markets, however.
“The idea for a parking app that aggregates crime data was provided as an example for how cloud-computing technology may be applied in the future,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends in a statement. “Please note there is no timeline or even confirmation for when this will be available in our vehicles as it was only provided as a potential use case.”
Updated on September 28, 2018: Added statement from Mercedes.