Drivers Can Now Choose Between Two Parking Apps

With the advent of the new app Parka, drivers can now choose between two apps when parking their vehicles in Reykjavík, and near specified tourist attractions in Iceland, Kjarninn reports. As the company intends to generate income by other means, users will not have to pay service fees or additional costs. 

No Service Charges

Parka, a new parking app, has recently offered early access to drivers in Iceland. Before Parka, the only app option for drivers was Leggja, which the Swedish company EasyPark recently acquired. The Parka app introduces a few new features, such as no service charges for users. 

Generating Income by Other Means

Parka, which was created by Computer Vision, aims to simplify the process of paying for parking by saving the location of the parking space, by displaying payment areas on a map, and by sending free reminders to users to deregister vehicles from parking spaces. The app allows users to pay for parking in downtown Reykjavík, in Höfðatorg square in Reykjavík, at the Þingvellir National Park, and the Skaftafell area at the Vatnajökull National Park. 

Parka will not charge users service fees or additional fees, according to Computer Vision. Instead, the company intends to generate income by other means, via “novel solutions” that the company plans to introduce over the next few days. Leggja charges a service fee of ISK 95 each time that a driver parks their vehicle. Users also have the option of paying a fixed monthly fee. 

“We’re confident that we can generate income by other means. We see many opportunities that we will be introducing over the coming days. We’re an innovation company that focuses on solutions. We put the customer first. Parka aims to make the lives of its users easier through automation. Our dream is that when you park your car you won’t even have to open the app. We will be testing this feature at Hafnartorg square,” Ægir Finnsson, Technical Director at Parka, stated in an interview with Kjarninn.

EasyPark Acquires Leggja

Before Parka, Leggja was the only parking app in Iceland. It was founded in 2008 by the software company Stokki, which was acquired by Já in 2017. Já announced yesterday that the Swedish parking company EasyPark had purchased Leggja. The company will invite users of Leggja to switch over to the EasyPark app in the coming days. EasyPark offers parking solutions in over 1,300 cities in 18 countries. 

“EasyPark is a leading player in the field of parking, offering solutions that are constantly being updated and improved, which will benefit Icelanders. This is exciting news for Leggja’s customers,” Vilborg Helga Harðardóttir, CEO of Já, stated in a press release. 

Power Restored to All Parts of the Country

According to RARIK, the state energy corporation of Iceland, power was restored to all parts of the country yesterday, RÚV reports. RARIK still expects power outages as repairs are far from finished. Backup generators are still powering many parts of the country.

A Milestone in Repairs

Following a severe storm last week – that resulted in unprecedented power failure – RARIK and Landsnet have for the past week worked to repair Iceland’s electrical system. Transportation, communication, and businesses were all affected by the storm.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Helga Jóhannesdóttir, head of RARIK’s operations division, stated that restoring power to all parts of the country that had experienced blackouts marked a significant milestone. Electricity was restored to Hrútafjarðarháls and to neighbouring areas of Hvammstangi. RARIK expects brief power outages as repairs are still being finished.

11,000 Residents Without Electricity

In a speech before Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir discussed the aftermath of the storm and the government’s response.

“It’s not an exaggeration to speak of a major storm. As meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson has noted we have not seen such conditions – with regard to northerly winds, salinity, high air pressure – since 1973  when a similar storm passed over the country in February, during the eruption on Heimaey,” Katrín stated.

“It’s clear that we possess enormous strength as a society, as those who responded to the storm accomplished incredible things, working around the clock to achieve what was nothing short of a miracle. At the same time, we must face up to the fact that the storm exposed significant weaknesses within our infrastructure.”

Katrín broadly recounted the series of events, observing that the Icelandic Met Office had for the first time issued a red weather warning and that police authorities had also declared a state of uncertainty. “According to information from the Civil Defence Commission, of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, approximately 11,000 residents in 7,600 homes were without electricity.”

In her speech, Katrín emphasised that she had established a task force involving five ministries to propose necessary improvements.

Extreme Weather

Snow, wind, and ice damaged power lines and posts in North and East Iceland last Tuesday and Wednesday when a winter storm blew across the country. The resulting outages left thousands without power, some areas for as long as five days. In areas where the hot water supply relies on electricity, homes quickly got cold indoors. Some residents found themselves without electricity, heat, radio, or even cell phone signals, unable to reach help in case of emergencies.

Parental Leave Extended to Twelve Months

Yesterday, in its final session before Christmas, Parliament passed new legislation extending parental leave to twelve months. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir discussed the new law on Facebook, stating that it was a huge step forward for Icelandic families, and also an important step toward greater equality.

Christmas Break

Parliament convened for the final time before Christmas yesterday. During the final session, new legislation was passed extending parental leave from nine months to twelve. Following the session, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir briefly recounted the history of parental leave in Iceland on Facebook. Compared to other Nordic countries, Katrín wrote, Iceland adopted parental leave laws late and defined them narrowly, to begin with.

The parental leave laws that are in effect today were passed in 2000, wherein Parliament extended the leave from six months to nine in three phases: “Another twenty years passed without any extension, or until the time of our current government,” Katrín wrote.

For the past two years, the government has made changes to the parental leave system by increasing compensation on the one hand and by extending the leave with the new bill signed yesterday on the other. “Both of which are important steps in fighting child poverty and increasing the quality of life of families with children,” Katrín wrote.

A Brief History of Parental Leave

The history of parental leave in Iceland traces its origins to 1980. In that year, a new law guaranteed women a three-month maternity leave with six months’ worth of compensation. Mothers who worked from home were entitled to one-third of what working mothers received. In 1986, Parliament extended maternity leave to six months. The right of fathers to paternity leave was enacted in 1998. Otherwise, the parental leave system remained almost unchanged for twenty years, from 1980 to 1999, until the 2000 legislation that extended the leave to nine months.