By Eric Borromeo
Ctrl-Z Team 5831 is a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics team from Bayview Glen School in Toronto. FLL is a STEM programme with over 38,000 teams from 100 countries competing across three aspects: innovative solution, autonomous robot and core values.
For the 2019-2020 FLL season, teams were challenged to identify a problem related to buildings or public places in the community and create an innovative solution for such problem. Prior years’ themes have related to space travel, waste management, climate change, food safety and other pertinent topics.
The problem we are addressing is accessibility. People without accessible parking permits are using designated spots illegally and blocking access to those who require them. This prevents people with disabilities and many seniors from leaving their homes, leading to isolation and immobility. We need a way to ensure accessible parking is available to those who need it.
Our solution, the SPOT SAVER, will ensure access to parking that will lead to greater levels of physical activity and interaction with others, resulting in improved mental health and longevity.
Prototype: The vehicle displaying the permits is the Lego component.
Preliminary Sketch of Prototype
How It Works
The SPOT SAVER consists of an optical character recognition system designed to ensure that special needs persons and seniors can have much needed access to accessible parking spaces in various community spaces across the city.
There are two main parts: a camera located on the top of a pole in front of the accessible parking spot which detects the presence of an accessible parking permit on the dash of a parked car. If detected, a message saying, “Valid permit detected” with a green light will appear on a display screen below the camera, indicating a legally parked vehicle.
If there is no permit detected, a message saying, “No valid permit” and a red flashing light will appear on the display screen. If a vehicle has not moved within 5 minutes, the camera will record the license plate and a ticket will be mailed to the vehicle owner.
On February 22, 2020, Ctrl-Z competed at the annual FLL Ontario Innovation Celebration (OIC) in Markham. The OIC brings together 18 of the most innovative inventions out of 512 FLL teams in the Province.
Ctrl-Z pitched its SPOT SAVER invention to a panel of judges. The team’s innovative solution was well received by the judges at the competition and the team was awarded a coveted CITY SHAPER OIC Champions Award, giving the team the opportunity to submit an application to compete at the 20-team FLL Global Innovation Award (GIA) event in Florida in June.
On Nov 18, 2019, we spoke with Mr. Adamo Donatucci, Regional Vice‐President of Indigo Parking Canada
Resources and Experts
Mrs. Karen Whitney, Director, Community Planning and Development, Planning and Economic, Cooperates Services York Region, talked about how our solution would ensure accessible parking for those who need it to promote safety for those individuals. They can park and have less distance to travel, rather than parking further away and risking injury.
Mr. Craig Lane, HCMA Architecture + Design, Vancouver, Canada, shared his insights on how making public spaces more accessible will encourage more people to be active in their community. He shared that our solution would ensure people with disabilities and seniors would have access to parking close to public buildings.
Prof. John Zelek, Associate and Professor and Co‐Director of the VIP (Vision Imaging Processing Lab) Ontario, Canada, encouraged to potentially use the data collection to allow property owners to optimize the number of accessibility stalls in parking lots.
Mrs. Kim Huntley and Mrs. Eda Conte‐Pitcher from the Toronto Public Library informed us that better accessibility parking solutions at the library will encourage people with disabilities to leave their homes and visit libraries.
Prof. Brenda Vrklijan, Professor, Occupational Therapist, McMaster University advised us that our original idea, a buzzer to prevent people from parking in those spots without a permit, would cause stress and scare people nearby.
Mr. William Wiles, Parking Operations Supervisor at York University suggested that in the future, we could use our solution to help the problem of people parking in front of fire routes.
Mr. Adamo Donatucci, Regional Vice‐President of Park Indigo Canada offered to install our Spot Saver at one of his company’s parkades.
The City of Toronto, Permits – Accessible Parking Permits ‐ parking exemptions and holder responsibilities
CITYLAB, Teressa Favuzzi, Solving Disability Placard Abuse – Is There A Technological Solution?
New Atlas, Ben Coxworth, Tech solution developed for disabled parking abuse, 29 December 2011
About the Team
Ctrl-Z is a co-ed FLL school team that was formed in 2009 and presently comprises nine passionate students in grade 6 and grade 8: Leela Bhide, Harrison Cazzin, Leo Cazzin, Chloe Filice, Jerry Huang, Santhiya Kuhan, Brianna Lovshin, Muriel Lovshin, and Ethan Yam.
- website at: https://fllctrlz.github.io/ctrlz/
- product description: https://youtu.be/5M1TXqfoZa8
- presentation at: https://youtu.be/BM_v2otF9Y8
Ctrl-Z thanks Carole Whitehorne and the Canadian Parking Association for all the support and guidance provided to the team members leading up to the OIC.