This is Part III in the Smart Cities Series. Part I: The Smart Meter and the Rise of the Smart City, explored a Smart Parking meter as an exemplary smart device that shows what the intelligence of the future might look like. Part 2: Next-Generation Detection described the value of the rich data-capturing capabilities of sensors.
In the past three years alone, the world has collected more data than has ever existed in all of history,
equating to billions of events. As a result of modern connected technology, we moved from having virtually no data, to being completely overwhelmed by it. The original data challenge used to be
defining efficient data collection methods. Now, we are tasked with figuring out what it all means.
SMART DATA TO DRIVE DECISIONS
Smart data is no longer an abstract concept that exists outside the realm of practical daily life. Rather it has revolutionized the way we work, socialize and live our lives. In fact, there are many examples
of how the Internet of Things (IoT) has given rise to smart devices that go beyond singular functionality to provide intelligent suggestions based on recognized habits and behaviors. The guidance, based on successful, proven methods, is intended to modify behavior and influence a positive change.
Fitbit® and Jawbone® are examples of wearable devices linked to a back-end smart data management system that
track exercise, nutrition, weight and sleep over time. Users benefit from personalized health coaching based on the trends tracked by their device, which in turn promotes long-term use versus occasional wear.
IoT extends beyond consumer products. City governments have started to add these solutions into their infrastructure. Verizon is one company that offers IoT solutions for Smart Cities, such as its Intelligent
Lighting solution. Intelligent Lighting uses data to help cities make informed decisions to save energy, control costs, and improve public safety. The solution uses street-light sensors and IoT technology to automate light levels based on the situation, such as dimming or turning off completely when
not in use.
SMART PARKING DATA MANAGEMENT
Today, parking programs are data rich, comprised of inter-related data points such as payment transactions, occupancy, sensor, enforcement, length of stay, meter status and more. With the appropriate technological blend, this data can be analyzed and organized into usable information that customers then use to understand and predict motorist behavior patterns.
Many cities do not have the resources necessary to collect, analyze and interpret such massive amounts of data in meaningful ways. Simply having the data is not enough. Data is only as useful as how it is analyzed and interpreted to make a positive change. A data management system is intended to address this very issue. Smart meters, sensors, mobile applications, and other connected devices work in harmony, but the valuable data collected by each Smart Parking device needs to be channeled and presented via a simple yet sophisticated outlet if it is to be properly utilized by city managers. Smart data management enables municipalities to utilize data to increase city revenue, maximize efficiency, and invest in sustainable practices. Without this
information, a parking program may not achieve its full potential.
While smart data management is becoming more common in theparking industry, the data presented is typically used reactively. One-off service maintenance issues are an example. In the event a battery needs to be replaced, the meter will communicate to the back-end system and send a notification to the customer, identifying the exact fault, location and time. While an improvement from old mechanical meters, these examples illustrate that data analysis still has a long way to go.
Soon it will be the norm for cities to utilize their data management systems in a proactive way to observe, analyze and make impactful decisions based upon trends, versus only intermittently when something isn’t operating correctly. Instead of a point-in-time snapshot, a city may receive a regular health report that can reveal long-term trends to suggest performance improvements.
For example, these reports may suggest implementing other complementary devices or applications to increase revenue opportunities, optimize rate structures, become more efficient with staff planning,or modify motorist parking behavior. They may also use trends that show what other cities are doing to be successful, where
they rank, and how they too can improve.
“DATA IS ONLY AS USEFUL AS HOW IT IS ANALYZED AND INTERPRETED TO MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE.”
Aside from conceptual implications of what data will do for the future of parking, what are the practical ways smart data management is applied to help cities now?
Fundamentally, smart data management helps cities do more with less, such as drive more efficient use of staff and stay within tightening budgets. For example, a city can create optimal routes for maintenance, collections and enforcement, which can increase safety, save time and money, and place priority on areas that need service
the greatest. Cities such as Boston take advantage of monitoring their IPS Group meters remotely for tasks such as collections.
“We save time, money and work hours by recognizing the 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.”
The City of Sacramento utilizes IPS Group Smart Sensors in conjunction with their single-space Smart Meters to
gather revenue and occupancy data based on meter, street, block or neighborhood for coordinating their collections and enforcement processes more efficiently and to allow for guided parking and wayfinding.
The data has also allowed the City to adjust rates based on demand. According to Mike King, Parking Technology & Infrastructure Manager, City of Sacramento, Parking Services Division, utilizing a tier-based dynamic pricing model has allowed the City to offer motorists a more convenient way to selfmanage their parking needs while at the same time managing its parking assets and promoting effective turnover of the spaces.
DATA’S ROLE IN DEFINING THE SMART CITY
A universal definition of “Smart City” is difficult to find, although a few common characteristics exist regardless of the source. At a basic level, Smart Cities use technology and innovation within their infrastructure to provide a more convenient, higher quality of life through the services it offers.
A notable example is Columbus, Ohio, winner of the 2016 USDOT Smart City Challenge. The City’s vision is to be the nation’s epicenter for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) research, development and implementation.
For Columbus – considered the fastest-growing Midwest City and hub of opportunity – being a Smart City means
making the most of the integrated smart technology.
“The City of Columbus has aligned around a unified vision to lead the way in moving our country forward with the deployment of Smart City technologies,” said Jeff Ortega, Assistant Director of the Columbus Department of Public Service.
“Harnessing the leadership of the public and private sectors, the city will leverage the investment of the federal government and our partners into a total investment of $140 million.”
For a City to be smart, it needs to not only have cutting-edge technology that meets the needs of today, but also the ability to expand to accommodate the bells and whistles of tomorrow. It also needs data-analysis technology that assists the City in making policy decisions to achieve the localized goals such as greater
convenience, staff efficiency, increased revenue, and optimized rates. These decisions are smart decisions based on millions of data points.
“WE HAVE BETTER DATA TO MAKE EFFECTIVE DECISIONS FOR OUR OPERATIONS.” Says Mike King, City of Sacramento.
Cities need to be able to do more with their resources, and the platform needs to be easy to use, but sophisticated.
“Nothing is successful unless it is useful,” says Dave King, President & CEO of IPS Group.
SIMPLE SOPHISTICATION – THE APPLE® INSPIRATION
Often, the simplest solution is also the most sophisticated one. Apple is known for its vertical integration strategy in hardware, software, services and retail that creates seamless congruency. The entire process is internally controlled, therefore providing an identity and experience unmatched by the competition. This type of innovative, entrepreneurial approach is one rarely attempted, and even more rarely mastered.
Apple’s level of commitment to innovation comes at a cost to the company and consumers, but has significant payoffs. In exchange for brand loyalty, consumers expect the most cutting-edge technology. They want to be assured that Apple will not merely keep up with trends, they will set them. It is this approach that captures brand “lifers” who will continue to trust in the Apple experience, not just the brand.
Not all companies have the philosophy to constantly innovate, evolve and embrace change while maintaining their trusted identity. Nokia Corp. and Kodak both saw an end to their reign when they relied on their dominance in wireless communications and photograph technology, respectively, and thus became stagnant. Nokia was a wireless pioneer with 41 percent of the market in 2007, then dropped significantly until its end when it was sold to Microsoft Corp. Kodak failed to innovate and move into the digital world at the fast pace at which it came. Both companies became vulnerable to organizations that continued to move forward and innovate at the pace of change versus being complacent.
IPS Group was inspired by Apple to take a similar, interconnected approach to the development of its suite of Smart Parking technology. The company designed the IPS Data Management System (DMS) and Smart Parking meters together from the ground up. This led to development of a system that is application-specific to parking and therefore more energy efficient, responsive, and provides much deeper levels of data reporting
The company knew its Data Management System (DMS) must be simple enough for those who just want the most basic elements, but also sophisticated enough to make sure it can also satisfy the massive data analysis that some cities require. Traditionally, the hardware piece, namely the parking meter for which citizens interact, is the part that is recognized, understood and valued. However, as the possibilities of what technology could do evolved, it became a chicken-or-egg situation, Smart Parking hardware simply could not exist to its intended function without a proper data management system.
THE FUTURE OF SMART DATA MANAGEMENT
The parking industry has rapidly-evolving expectations for smart technology. Wireless and payment technology and data management systems are investments that are not just desirable, but necessary to implement for the future.
Data management systems are arguably the most powerful, yet underappreciated component of a Smart City’s parking program. It is crucial that the next generation of smart parking technology incorporate smart data management, reporting and analytics, and proactive data tools as prime features. Additionally, consumers of smart data systems should demand much more from the companies that supply them.
In considering the future of data management, there are three simple things cities can do.
1. RE-EVALUATE parking program budgets to ensure that an investment in smart technology and a smart data management system is accounted for.
2. PARTNER with technology leaders that commit to innovation and invest heavily in R&D.
3. ENSURE the smart parking solution has the longevity to consistently keep up with advancing technology and rapidly changing technology trends.
With the help of Smart Parking leaders the future is looking bright. For IPS Group, they will continue to lead the Smart City revolution. “Choosing IPS means choosing a solution and 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,” says Randall.