Details of smart meter test program worked out, but potential snag remains

Scranton officials have hammered out where and when a free trial of new parking meter technology will take place, but have yet to decide on what happens when the trial is complete.
Fifty meters around the Lackawanna County Courthouse are expected to serve as the test bed for StreetSmart Technology LLC's electronic monitoring system in a 90-day demonstration likely to begin by April, account manager John Miskell said. The technology is designed to increase revenue by alerting inspectors when meters are expired or broken.

Installation would take place on a weekend, when the meters are not monitored, and the Scranton Parking Authority is ready to implement the technology, said its executive director, Bob Scopelliti.

What remains unclear is whether the city will have to seek bidders after the test is finished.

Under bidding rules amended by city council last year, professional services that cost at least $10,000 in a calendar year must be bid. StreetSmart's program clearly exceeds that limit, as the city would pay about $42,000 per month for 1,200 meters over the life of a 60-month contract.

But "sole source" services - meaning a company provides a product or service that no one else does - are not required to be bid, under city regulations. The company maintains its product is one of a kind.

StreetSmart met with city officials Tuesday. Business Administrator Ryan McGowan said Mr. Miskell sought "reasonable assurances" from the administration that StreetSmart's program would be implemented if the test proves successful.

"That's the biggest stumbling block, whether it would be bid or sole source," Mr. McGowan said. Attorneys from the administration, controller's office and council are looking into the issue, he added.

Mr. Miskell said he asked during the meeting if the city would initiate a request for proposals if the test is successful. City officials said yes, and Mr. Miskell said he responded that his company would have been happy to issue an RFP.

When asked if a test would be done if the city determines bidding is necessary, Mr. Miskell said he would have to consult with StreetSmart.

Money and technology

City council cited the program as a source of revenue in the $74.9 million budget for 2011, saying the company's technology would ultimately boost revenue.

The city maintains the parking meters, which includes providing $562,234 for citation issuers - who work for the SPA - in the 2011 budget. The authority's budget contains $43,443, which the council slated for implementation of StreetSmart.

In 2010, Scranton collected about $1.4 million in meter revenue and parking tickets. The city's 2011 budget projects a similar amount. Mr. McGowan said the goal is to exceed the $1.4 million meter revenue projection using meter information technology.

StreetSmart's technology is designed to alert enforcement agents in real time about the meter's status, including expiration. The company has said the city could realize $4.8 million in revenue if it takes full advantage of the technology by increasing the capture rate - the number of tickets written compared with the actual number of meters expired - to 9 percent.

Mr. McGowan said details on how to boost the capture rate has not been determined. He added, however, discussion began on Tuesday with Mr. Miskell to look at "better practices to follow on how to accept real information."

StreetSmart, which offers a guarantee that its service is free if it fails to provide more revenue than what is already collected, projects $1.4 million in revenue if Scranton's capture rate remains at 1 percent.

The company is paid by collecting up to $30 per meter when the revenue that had already been collected is exceeded.

"They don't have to pay us anything from the current revenue," Mr. Miskell said.

The city has about 1,200 Duncan Eagle 90 meters (the "90" represents the type of meter mechanism used). StreetSmart requires Duncan Eagle 2100 parking meters. If all meter mechanisms were replaced, the city would pay about $42,000 per month during the 60-month contract.

Mr. Miskell said the mechanism in the city's meters will have to be replaced to do the test, but the housing and poles will remain intact.

SPA staff would also have to be trained to do the test, while a pave cut would be made in the ground next to the meter to install a sensor.
  • Join our community for FREE today!

  • Create and share your own profile

  • Join the discussions

  • Publish your own items

  • Subscription to our Weekly eNewsletter

your benefits?

Get connected with parking professionals worldwide

Create your account

Sign in with LinkedIn Close

FREE membership benefits

  • * create and share your own profile
  • * join the discussions
  • * publish your own items on parking-net.commanage news, jobs, tenders, companies, events, showcases, educations, associations and literature.
  • * subscribe to our weekly eNewsletter
Add news yourself


There are no comments yet for this item

Join the discussion

You can only add a comment when you are logged in. Click here to login