Smart Solutions

Smart Parking

The use of sensors and monitoring devices to better monitor and manage the use of different types of parking space around the community.

Implemented inEdenderry

Country : Ireland

What’s the solution?

This smart solution involves the use of remote monitoring sensors to ensure appropriate use of different categories of parking space across the community, including loading bays, spaces for wheelchair users and electric vehicle charging points.

The sensors are placed by the relevant parking spaces which identify whether a vehicle is parked in the spot. Implementation of the solution requires supporting ‘Internet of Things’ technologies, including not only the sensors themselves but low-power wide-area (LoRaWAN) gateways to enable the transfer of data.

Once collected, the data can be used in coordination with different service providers, including traffic wardens, authorities overseeing the allocation of disabled parking authorisations and electricity suppliers to ensure that all spaces are being used appropriately.

For example, traffic wardens can check whether a vehicle has been parked too long in a spot, is in a loading bay that it should not be in or is parking illegally in a space reserved for wheelchair users. Cooperation with electricity suppliers can confirm if a vehicle parked in an electric vehicle charging point is really using the space for its intended purpose.

The solution facilitates improved management of parking spaces in the community to the benefit of all – especially wheelchair users and small businesses who rely on access to their designated spaces. It also shows the successful use of IoT technologies which once demonstrated can also be applied to other local services, including waste and water management.

What makes it smart?

The solution is smart because it harnesses the full potential of the internet and remote-sensing technologies for the benefit of municipal service delivery.

It enables the quality of services – and therefore quality of life – to be improved in rural areas.

At the same time, it allows for long-term cost savings in terms of avoiding current inefficient and labour-intensive means of managing and ensuring the correct usage of designated parking spaces.

“Low-power wide-area technology (LoRaWAN) and IoT may sound complicated, but in simple terms, they provide a low-cost and easy-to-maintain way of leveraging the benefits of connectivity to the internet in a range of everyday uses and devices.” Paul Delaney, sales director at Cellnex Ireland

Eamon Ryan, Teachta Dála (TD), Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications agrees: “Edenderry shows the potential for the internet of things to measure and manage our built and natural environment.”

How is the solution implemented?

  • Ensure the engagement of the local authority
  • Select a public service to test the use of IoT technologies within the community
  • Find a technology service provider to work with
  • Conduct a feasibility study, mapping the need, potential use of IoT and related costs
  • Seek funding (regional, national, European) to support the testing of an IoT solution.
  • Seek partnerships with relevant service providers in the area and identify additional needs.
  • Purchase or rent the required sensors and ensure the required low-power wide-area (LoRaWAN) system to enable transfer of data.
  • Activate the sensors and use the resulting data to inform decision-making.

In what local context has it been applied?

Edenderry is a town of about 7,500 people, with a predominantly young population, in the eastern part of the sparsely populated Irish county of Offaly. Edenderry features the impressive medieval ruins of Blundell Castle and a Franciscan Friary.

Already home to several top companies, Edenderry Town is currently regarded as one of the best towns in Ireland to invest in high-tech and is the second largest municipal economy in Offaly.

Edenderry faced several of the problems common to so many rural small towns in Ireland, especially issues with parking (including inappropriate parking in loading bays, disabled parking spaces, illegal parking, parking problems especially at school finishing times, and electric vehicle charging points).

Who was behind the implementation?

  • Implementation was driven by Offaly County Council (regional rather than local) which selected Edenderry as a pilot location for the smart parking solution.
  • A key partner was the private Spanish company Cellnex, a European provider of wireless infrastructure.

What was the local journey?

  • Ireland is in the middle of implementing its national broadband Plan (NBP) to provide access to high-speed broadband with a choice of service providers to every home and business by 2026.
  • Realizing it needed stronger guidance in this and ideas to address many of the challenges facing many rural and urban municipalities, Offaly County Council hired a Broadband and Digital Officer for the county in January 2020. Her task was to design and write the digital strategy for the county, to see if smart solutions could be implemented on a trial basis in a town and, if successful, expanded across the county.
  • Serendipitously around this time Cellnex, a Spanish company specializing in providing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to government, were holding a Smart Technologies day in the county and Catriona immediately recognised opportunities for
  • Cellnex saw the collaboration as a great opportunity to showcase their technology and to get case studies to prove the concept of their remote sensor systems.
  • Edenderry was chosen by the County to be the trial location for any digital solutions that were Throughout implementation, Offaly County Council continued to provide access to community facilities/venues, as well as contributing ideas development and facilitating access to relevant stakeholders in the public service network.
  • What followed was a series of site visits, looking at the different areas that could be enhanced using digital tools. Parking space monitoring was chosen as a viable candidate for smart technology trials.
  • Cellnex supported ideas development and guidance on which sensors to use as well as providing the technology to support the Internet of Things (IoT) project, including two low-power wide-area (LoRaWAN) gateways in the town and access to the Cellnex ‘Smartbrain’.
  • As part of its ongoing support to project rollout, Cellnex deployed parking sensors and monitoring devices around the town in three main contexts: i) loading bays; ii) wheelchair spaces; and iii) EV charging points. The sensors tell the traffic wardens when the spaces are in use, if someone has stayed for too long and to help identify if someone has parking inappropriately.
  • A related innovation was the creation of an App to tell the system if the car in the wheelchair space was owned by a wheelchair user or someone with mobility difficulties. Edenderry is now hoping to collaborate with the Irish Wheelchair Association to get nationwide adoption of sensors in wheelchair users' cars to prevent the illegal use of wheelchair parking spaces by able-bodied drivers.
  • Another innovation was entering into a collaboration with the National Electricity Supply Service (ESB). With the parking sensor and access to the national power grid data, Edenderry can ascertain if the space was occupied and whether an EV was charging in real time. This allowed Edenderry to know if someone was occupying the space but not using it to charge their vehicle.

What have been the main outputs & results?

Traffic wardens are now better able to:

  • Control the correct usage of key parking spaces around the rural town.
  • Detect and prevent the illegal use of wheelchair parking spaces by able-bodied drivers through the purpose-built app for smart parking.
  • Identify and validate the use of parking space in Electric Vehicles parking bays in partnership with ESB EV Cars.
  • Ensure that loading bays are available when needed for retailers and business owners in the locality – avoiding disruptions and saving associated costs.
  • The success of the pilots has already led to additional grant funding for further projects and feasibility studies, as well as a working partnership with Trinity College Dublin to define and research future opportunities
  • County Offaly is also now looking to install remote sensors everywhere it is feasible to enable similar systems to be used in other municipalities across the county.
  • This project has been the most advanced remote sensing project in the community sector undertaken in Ireland to Paul Delaney, sales director at Cellnex Ireland, has described the Edenderry project as “a showcase for what can be delivered” in rural municipalities through the Internet of Things concept.
  • On the back of the successful demonstrations, Edenderry has got further regional funding to put these types of IoT solutions into effect in other sectors (see below).

What does it bring the village/community?

  • The IoT concept promises to improve the monitoring of parking spaces, the quality of a range of municipal services in rural areas at the same time as reducing the long-term
  • It also demonstrates the potential for the Internet of Things concept for offering further benefits, cost savings, and opportunities for service improvements in other sectors. Edenderry is already working on IoT solutions in areas such as:

    • Litter: The Council decided to work directly with the street bin service provider to include sensors in the domes of the heritage-style bins. The provider is automatically notified that the bin needs to be emptied allowing for more efficient bin management.
    • Air quality: In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, the local council and Cellnex have deployed air quality and pollution monitors in the town.
    • Building Energy: remote sensors were put in to Edenderry Municipal District offices and at the town’s Community Cabin to monitor energy use, access, lighting and smoke alarms, temperature and humidity
    • River level monitoring: Sensors were installed to monitor the level of the river that transects the top of the town to inform enhance river management.

  • Such innovations can make rural municipalities more attractive places to live and work for both existing residents and potential newcomers.
  • Edenderry Council recognises the great utility these remote monitoring sensors can have on very remote communities in Ireland.
  • This digital development solution can also be extended to cater to other customer profiles, including utility providers and players in the hospitality, retail, transport, manufacturing, and construction sectors.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Main types of cost:
Financial needs:

Set up / Investment costs: € 35,000

The main financial costs were:

• Feasibility studies and reports

• Commissioning and installation of the remote sensors, collaborating with the technology providers such as Cellnex

• Expert analysis of resulting outputs and opportunities

Ongoing costs: connectivity to the data centers costs € 20 - 100 per year.

Funding received:
The Digital Innovation Programme of The Department of Rural and Community Development35,000 €- Feasibility studies and reports, installation and commissioning, including collaboration with the technology providers such as Cellnex - Analysis of outputs to see what outcomes can be extracted from them - To look in depth at the wide range of opportunities that are available

Human resources

Persons with the knowledge of:

● Implementation of the digital and broadband services, industry 4.0, and smart city tools, such as broadband/digital officer

● Wireless telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructure with a focus on public LoRaWAN network

● Implementation of internet of things-enabled smart grid (SG)

● Project Manager: to coordinate activity

● Marketing & Communications

● IT Support

● Compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), passed by EU

Physical resources

● Installation of IoT sensors at appropriate spots

● Embedded device connection functionality in relevant IoT sensor sets

● Low-power wide-area (LoRaWAN) technology gateways

What to do…

  • Ensure compliance with Data protection.
  • Select the right hardware (LoRaWAN) for your region and use case, because LoRa chipsets are region-specific.
  • Work on collaborations with the public and private sectors and seek assistance in areas where they can provide it.

and not to do

  •  Since sensors and other devices built with LoRa chips can typically last for up to 10 years on a single battery, it is advised not to have batteries that have a low lifespan.

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