In our current age of Machine to Machine communication (M2M), the Internet of Things (IoT), and now the Internet of Everything (IoE), all of which incorporate autonomous functions and ‘machine learning’ into their performance, everyone’s talking about Smart Cities, says Dave King, President and CEO of IPS Group. But no one’s defined what the smart city is.

It’s about time we clearly define the concept, in light of recent research by IHS Technology – which estimates the rise of at least 88 Smart Cities worldwide by 2025. IHS further projects that annual investments on Smart City projects, which reached $1 billion in 2013, will go on to surpass $12 billion in 2025. Why this astonishing growth? When you look at the positive impact of Smart Cities already underway across globe, it just makes sense to invest in technology which improves the lives of urban residents and reduces the cost of city expenditures. Both locals and visitors expect a lot from cities – and leaders want to deliver.

The term Smart Cities can mean different things, depending on who you talk to. Most people agree, however, the designation describes cities that are integrating information, communications and technology solutions to tackle mobile and transport challenges, energy and sustainability goals, and governance. These types of solutions can also be used to optimize physical infrastructure, safety and security.

Smart Cities maximize the speed and efficiency of city processes while reducing utility usage and carbon footprints. The best solutions eliminate data overload with automated reports and analytics to help city staff make informed decisions.

Enter Smart Parking

Of all the recent improvements to appear in our most technology-friendly cities, smart parking is one of the most popular due to rising demand, revenue enhancement, operational efficiencies and improved customer service. In fact, single-space parking meters are the fastest growing meter product segment in the U.S. In the case of the IPS Smart Parking meter, an accompanying sensor communicates with the meter directly as opposed to traveling to the central repository. In other words, the meter is intelligent enough to say: “When a car leaves, reset to zero time,” or, “add time to the meter when the vehicle arrives.” The decision is made instantly and the meter acts almost immediately upon the departure/arrival of a vehicle. This advanced two-way communication empowers local decision-making, unlike cloud-based decisions that rely on high-speed, high-volume and latency-prone data transmission.

In addition to the smart meter, smart collection systems, wayfinding and enforcement applications, vehicle detection sensors, and powerful data management tools are some of the products that have arrived on the scene in over 200 cities in the U.S., including Boston, San Diego, and Sacramento. For instance, the City of Sacramento uses IPS Group Smart Sensors in conjunction with the M5 single-space Smart Meters to gather revenue and occupancy data based on meter, street, block or neighborhood for coordinating their collections.

In Boston, the City is making use of the invaluable transactional information coming from the meters. “We save time, money and work hours by recognizing any issues in real time,” says Paul Crimmins, Analyst for the City of Boston. “We’re able to identify payment trends on the meter routes to simplify meter collection efforts. Our workers already know which meters need to be collected by utilizing the IPS reports.”

Looking Forward

Nicknamed “the brick” and costing just over $9,000, the world’s first mobile phone lasted about half an hour on battery power. Since that time, we’ve come a long way. The same is true of infrastructure innovations.

Today, from street lights to trash cans to parking meters and payphones, Smart Cities are starting to use the computing power that revolutionized the smartphone to transform infrastructure and create smarter, more connected ecosystems. In parking, smart technology provides new opportunities in the management, enforcement, and collection of a city’s programs. At IPS Group, we plan to continue to lead the Smart City revolution.

IPS has been delivering IoT and Smart City solutions to our customers for years,” says Chad Randall, IPS Group COO. “We just didn’t know early on what it was called until these terms became more commonplace. Choosing IPS means choosing a company that isn’t just focused on the next couple of years, but rather has the resources, deep understanding of technology, and financial commitment to keep pace with innovation and help set the standard in terms of what smart parking can be for many years to come.”

Interested in receiving a free Smart Parking Assessment for your city or university? Click here and we’ll help get you started.