Barrie Determines Need to Upgrade Parking Technology
Just 30 minutes north of Toronto lies Barrie, a mid-sized city regarded as one of Canada’s fastest growing urban centers. As Barrie grew, so too did its need to reassess municipal programs, such as its paid-parking program, to ensure they were progressively meeting the customer service needs of patrons. The City’s outdated coin-only electronic meters operated on a standard enforcement schedule of Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Parking operations are managed by a small, but efficient parking team, and local student interns which help analyze the parking program’s performance.
Barrie required a reliable and robust parking meter which could withstand extreme Canadian winters with heavy snowfall, bitter cold temperatures and drastic weather fluctuations that can cause meters to freeze and condensation to form inside the meter. For solar-powered devices that rely on sunlight to maintain a charge, loss of power from being covered by snow is another potential hazard. Snow falls in Barrie anytime between November and April, with an average of nearly 235 cm (7 - 8 ft.) of snow each winter and temperatures from -25° C to 10.6° C (17.6° F – 51° F) – averages substantially higher and lower, respectively, than many Canadian cities. In light of such harsh environmental conditions, Barrie expected the technology would falter and ultimately fail.
“We were initially skeptical based on our experience in the past with other solar power devices that couldn’t hold a charge – meter uptime suffered as a result,” said Steve Rose, Manager of Traffic and Parking for the City of Barrie. “How would the IPS technology handle the snow and the weather?”
Barrie Engages IPS in Smart Parking Technology Pilot
In order to decide upon the right Smart Parking technology solution that would prove reliable for a city with few dedicated resources, Barrie selected IPS Group for a pilot of single-space, credit card-enabled Smart Parking meters. A true test was to see how the IPS parking meters would fare during the harsh winter months that would coincide with the pilot.
In Barrie, every winter presents a challenge with traditional coin-only electronic meters – more snow meant more work and a physical burden on technicians. They would need to wipe off solar panels to keep devices operational and conduct frequent maintenance. Parking meters that were going to survive the long-haul needed to be “winterized” to avoid malfunctions that render the device inoperable.
IPS Smart Parking Meters Prove Reliable Under Winter Stress
IPS meters proved durable enough to withstand one of the most brutal winters experienced in over 10 years in Barrie. IPS meters are engineered to withstand extreme weather conditions. Featuring the latest in solar power technology, IPS Smart Parking meters remain charged in even the harshest conditions as a result of a patented combined solar power and battery system. The solar panel requires only a nominal amount of ambient sunlight to keep the battery packs charged. The City of Barrie was pleased with the performance and reliability of the IPS Smart
Parking meters and subsequently awarded the contract to IPS Group over three years ago.
IPS Smart Parking Meters Leads to Increased Revenue
The IPS meters enhanced the parking program efficiency and increased parking revenue. When the credit card-enabled meters were introduced to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and Georgian College, the City of Barrie also raised the rates and extended enforcement hours leading to a nearly 300% increase in parking revenue in that area. The meters are wirelessly networked to the state-of-the-art IPS Data Management System (DMS), which provides Barrie with real-time data including faulty meters and revenue. Easy-to-analyze information allows the City insight into trends, meter health, and collections in ways that they had never experienced before, as well as to help plan long-term strategy by going into deeper levels of data analysis. All of this is achieved from their desktop.
“The old process to keep track was just with pen and paper adding things up and trying to sort out what was what,” says Gary Doiron, Coordinator of Parking for the City of Barrie. “I’ve found with the DMS you can go in and customize pretty much anything you want, which is very convenient. Other people can access the system at the same time to get what they need, which also frees up my time.”
“It impacts our long-term strategy,” says Doiron. “You can see where you are making money, so maybe you can gear more of your parking towards that – which meters are people using the most, when they are using them, how much they are spending. By knowing this, you can forecast the future much easier.”
Looking to the Future
Barrie continues to enjoy a thriving partnership with IPS Group. The City aims to eventually upgrade more of the coin-only, single-space parking meters throughout the City with IPS meters, offering additional payment options and enhanced customer service to the public. They are choosing IPS as their partner to face the challenges ahead, be it from weather, or city growth.
About IPS Group, Inc.
IPS Group Inc., (www.ipsgroupinc.com) is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. (USA), with offices in Canada and Europe. IPS is a design, engineering and manufacturing company focused on low power wireless telecommunications, payment processing systems and parking technologies and has been delivering world-class solutions to the telecommunications and parking industries for over 20 years. The company offers a fully integrated smart product suite comprised of single-space meters, multi-space pay stations, pay station upgrade kits, vehicle detection sensors, smart cash collection systems, and SaaS management software with advanced data analytics. IPS converts the concepts of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities into reality for transportation and parking operations all over the world.