A Winnipeg-based startup has created an app that monetizes the act of people reporting illegal parking, such as in front of a fire hydrant or in disabled spots without a permit.
SpotSquad is a new mobile app in which users snap a photo of a parking violation and the startup and user both take a cut if a fine is issued to that driver. Users earn military-like ranks—Private, Captain, Corporal, etc.—which increases the percentage of the fine that a user takes after a successful report (between 0% and 40%).
The app was built in 55 hours during Ramp Up Weekend in Winnipeg.
The founding team is extremely large at 10 members: Adam Pazdor, Chris Johnson, Dustin Refvik, Justin Foot, Matt Doak, Nick Danzinger, Peter Braun, Shivaram Narayanan, Taylor Sando, Youlan Wang. Five are software developers, three are marketers, and two are previous tech startup founders.
While the idea is interesting, there are several legal concerns with the app's concept.
Mark Marsh of Parking Mobility, which is similar to SpotSquad but based in the US and whose monetary cuts are given to charities, says this app idea won't work.
"There is not a city in the world that would allow that because what you create then is vigilantism. When the individual who reports a crime profits from the reporting of that crime, then that crime is no longer enforceable,” Marsh told The Canadian Press. “There is not a court in the world that would uphold that type of violation.”
Lawyers are also skeptical. A Winnipeg lawyer specializing in social media law says the app would unleash a legal minefield.
Quoth The Canadian Press:
It’s unclear if charter rights would apply or whether a person taking a photograph would be bound by the same privacy laws as public sector workers, [Brian Bowman] said. Just because a car is parked in a public place, that doesn’t mean the driver can’t expect some privacy rights, Bowman suggested.