I had a quick look through the last couple of years of Google Labs offerings and came away largely underwhelmed. (For the record, I like Google Wave, though it didn’t take among the collaborators with whom I tried it out. Which may help explain why its no longer being supported…)
The Google Lab idea that does intrigue me, however, is Open Spot. It’s an Android app, so I’m not able to test it out, but the basic idea is that you report an open parking spot and receive “karma points”. Others can check to see if any open spots have been reported in their area. The description doesn’t make it sound like you need to have points in order to search for an open spot, but that may induce more users to identify open spots. (On the other hand, it may prompt them to make a false report, or to abandon the app.)
I like Open Spot because it utilizes digital networking technologies to enhance the potential for systems of mutual assistance that is inherent in human nature. On the other hand, one practical downside seems obvious: will users in dense urban areas feel comfortable using a smartphone app while driving?
If you’ve used Open Spot, please let me know what you think in the comments.