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Wanted: your thoughts on the current state of EV charging location app/sites

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by electricarbuyer, May 29, 2015.

  1. electricarbuyer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    [Disclosure: I am the main developer of the Open Charge Map database, app and website, so I'm biased even though I try not to be :smile:]

    Hi folks,
    I have a general question about how people people about the current state of EV charging apps/sites:

    - What are the main challenges drivers face when using the current crop of EV charging app/sites etc?
    - What is the most frustrating thing about using these?
    - What can be done (in your opinion)?
    - Is it important to you if the data is Open Data or not? (public and readily-accessible to other apps/sites with minimal restrictions on sharing)

    For me the most obvious problem is that multiple apps need to be kept up to date if you really want people to know that a new charger exists or a charger has been decomissioned etc. Furthermore competing databases/app result in conflicting information about charging locations leaving users trying to figure out which one is correct.

    Does anyone have any thoughts they'd like to share on this?

    Cheers,
    Christopher Cook

    Open Charge Map - The global public registry of electric vehicle charging locations
     
  2. Requiem

    Requiem Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Norway
    Showing the map on the Tesla console:
    The mobile webapp could be better optimized for the Tesla browser. Tesla's browser is very slow and requires big buttons to navigate easily. Many map-applications don't work or are hard to use because of slow panning and dragging, too small zoom buttons (the stock google ones are too small) and sidebar lists that cannot be scrolled with swipe (this is the case with your webpage).

    Integrate trip planner with charger database:
    I would love to see a trip planner that works both on a cellphone as an app and on the Tesla Browser. Today we have evtripplanner.com, and allthough it's calculations are great, it's quite limited and not seeing any updates theese days.
    EV Trip Planner does a great job calculating how much energy will be spent driving, and picks the best way to drive, but does not take into account how long time will be spent charging, and only routes via Tesla Superchargers.
    I would love to se an app that calculates routes based on time spent driving and charging, and that estimates where and how I should charge, even if there are no superchargers along the route. Perhaps by letting the user pick what car they have and starting SOC, and calculate route using a balance between speed, distance, elevation and charging rate at available chargers. Such an app/site would be the perfect EV companion, combining trip planning and charger database!
    (this is a huge task however, I know)

    Combine forces!
    Today we have a plethora of charging databases. Openchargemap, plugshare, nobil.no (official norwegian database), plugsurfing and so on. Some allow checkins, some have pictures, some show details about voltage, charge speeds, some have number of plugs of each type per site, some even show if fast chargers are in use or available. No one app has all of theese features at once (that I have seen), so to get the complete picture of an unknown place, I always need to launch several apps. Great effort should be spent in opening up and exchanging data so users can feel confident that the app they use have all the info (but let other features differentiate the apps).

    Platform Support:
    This is very important, and in this area your service seems to be class leading with support for browser, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and even Firefox OS! Kudos!

    Easy for users to maintain:
    The service should be easy to maintain for users. Both editing a current entry to add new outlets or correct erroneous information, as well as adding new locations. One should be able to add a location by address and drag a map marker to designate more precisely where the plug is located (e.g. corner of parking lot).

    Openchargemap app comments:
    When zooming in on a given place on the map, the map should populate with location markers without having to do a search. Sometimes this could be faster than typing it out. (I use the Android app).
    A bit confusing to edit a location (two different interfaces, one doesn't give the ption to edit number of plugs). If you press a map marker then edit, you get one interface. If you press the link from there to "OpenChargeMap Ref:" you get a different (in my opinion better) interface. Why not make this the only edit screen?
     
  3. Forty Creek

    Forty Creek Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    Messages:
    425
    Location:
    Carlisle, Ontario
    The biggest irritation with some of the apps (plug-share, CAA) are that they do not always indicate volts & amps. This info would be very helpful for trip planning.
     
  4. mattmass

    mattmass Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2014
    Messages:
    119
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    With regards to your specific questions:

    - What are the main challenges drivers face when using the current crop of EV charging app/sites etc?

    For me, easy filtering to find *working* stations filtered by plug type. I only use these apps when on a trip, or planning a trip. And my goal is always to find the fastest charging option closest to me that I can use successfully.


    - What is the most frustrating thing about using these?

    Using the app to pick a spot, drive to spot, find station doesn't work.
    Lack of simple and/or understandable filtering.
    Inaccurate information.


    - What can be done (in your opinion)?

    Heh good question. I guess lightweight check in/status options would be helpful. I'm not really sure though.


    - Is it important to you if the data is Open Data or not? (public and readily-accessible to other apps/sites with minimal restrictions on sharing)

    To me, maybe. I like the notion of everyone updating everything, and nothing being in a walled garden. But, I care way more about accuracy and user experience.

    All that said, I think this project you're working on is awesome, and I hope you continue it!
     
  5. cpa

    cpa Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    933
    Location:
    Central Valley
    I agree with Forty Creek. The locator pins need to be able to discern among the various types of charging stations out there. PlugShare offers the following on their maps:

    Blue Pin = Private home charging station
    Sepia Pin = Restricted access, likely a private business or government entity that generally prohibits "public charging."
    Orange Pin = DC fast charging
    Green Pin = Public levels 1 and 2 charging

    We have a mixed bag of available charging types: Level 1 can be 15 or 20 amps
    Level 2 can be 30, 48, 70, or 80 amps on the J1772, plus the NEMA 14-50. Not to mention the Tesla HPWC that can be any charge rate between 40-80 amps. Compounding this mix is that the voltage can be 208-240.
    DC fast charging can be CHAdeMO type or Tesla Superchargers.

    None of these differences are readily available just from looking at the pins until the user presses on the pin to get more information. And then, (especially with L2), the charging rate is not apparent, unless the size is listed in the detail or someone posted a comment.

    Trip planning should be able to have the user select a route, and not be forced to take a default route that may be shortest or have the most chargers available.

    Trip planning should be able to have the user input variables like current weather conditions (temperature, precipitation, wind) to help factor in the amount of charging to reach the next desired charging spot or destination. (This assumes that elevation gain or loss is factored into the initial calculation.) A 125-mile journey with 1000 feet of elevation gain uses much less energy at 70 degrees, zero wind and dry pavement versus driving the same route in 25-degree weather, with a 20MPH headwind. A recommended speed and watt-hours per mile target would be very helpful for the driver to be able to monitor so he/she could adjust his/her driving speed accordingly. The Tesla Trip Planner is pretty good, but only factors in these variables after the journey starts, which may be too late if the driver leaves with a 10% buffer instead of 30%.
     
  6. David99

    David99 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2014
    Messages:
    2,048
    Location:
    Brea, Orange County
    PlugShare works pretty well. It's very accurate, has excellent filtering and is mostly user driven so it's reasonably up to date. The rating and user reviews tell you a lot about how good a station is. I think looking at that is a good start.

    The frustration isn't about the app or database itself. It's just the lack of enough stations or poor upkeep of them. Nothing a database can fix.

    My biggest frustration is that Tesla has refused to include public chargers into their navigation and trip planning system. Again, nothing you could fix on a database side.
     

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