IBM Offering Information

Municipal Parking Services

IBM Analytics is helping Municipal Parking Services leverage the data collected by its state-of-the-art meters, enabling it to uncover relationships between parking behavior and weather patterns, help city planners and police, and even deliver targeted advertising on the meters themselves.

Business challenge

Municipal Parking Services (MPS) knew that the data captured by its cutting-edge parking meters could be used for more than parking enforcement. How could it explore this data to unlock new insights?


Cloud-based analytics helps MPS discover previously unknown relationships between parking and weather patterns, assist city planners and police, and deliver targeted messaging and advertising on its meters’ displays.

Rob Matthews, VP Sales and Business Development, Municipal Parking Services

Municipal Parking Services

Revealing drivers’ parking behavior to unlock new commercial opportunities

Municipal Parking Services (MPS) designs, develops, manufactures and markets technologically advanced parking solutions, such as its patented Sentry Meter and SAAS software – a connected device with built-in touchscreen and cameras that capture real-time data about drivers and parking behavior.

Making the most of an under-utilized asset

In most municipalities, parking is an under-utilized asset. Few cities have the resources to fully enforce their parking rules. As a result, it’s estimated that only 50 percent of people comply and pay in full for their parking, and only 20 percent of infringements are actually penalized,due to a lack of enforcement personnel.

Municipal Parking Services (MPS)helps make parking fair with its Sentry Meters – connected devices that help drivers find, park and pay for available spots. The meters’ seven-by-four-inch color screens also provide information about the local area, and use cameras and sensors to capture irrefutable evidence of infringements.

MPS wanted to analyze data from these meters to develop even smarter parking services, but the sheer volume of data made this difficult to achieve. “In one small stretch on main street we were seeing 18,000 sessions in a day!” says Rob Matthews, VP Sales and Business Development at MPS.

New insight in less than ten days

MPS implemented the Findability Platform, a sophisticated reporting and analytics solution developed by Findability Sciences, powered by IBM BigInsights® technology, and running in the cloud on SoftLayer®.

This architecture allows MPS to “land” all of its meter data, combine it with weather data and other external data, and analyze it rapidly. As each meter creates around 500 sessions of data per day, this ability to handle high volume, high velocity data is critical.

“Our partnership with Findability Sciences lets us focus on product development and making parking easier for consumers and municipalities, while they handle the analytics,” says Rob Matthews. “Thanks to their expertise, we began seeing meaningful results in less than ten days.”

IBM BigInsights adds an important analytics component to the Findability Platform, allowing clients to uncover key insights about customer behavior from large volumes of data.

“IBM BigInsights allows us to really dig deeper into big data, combining the power and flexibility of Hadoop with enterprise-class tools like dashboards and text analytics”, says Anand Mahurkar, CEO and Founder, Findability Sciences.

Findability Sciences runs the Findability Platform and IBM BigInsights on SoftLayer, IBM’s state-of-the-art cloud platform. SoftLayer provides a dedicated environment of virtual servers to support the parking analytics solution for MPS, hosted at IBM data centers in the US.

“We originally used Amazon as our cloud hosting environment, but we switched to SoftLayer because it offered better security and performance, as well as seamless integration with other IBM software assets such as Bluemix™,” says Anand Mahurkar.

The use of SoftLayer allows MPS to avoid the cost of purchasing and maintaining its own infrastructure, and more importantly, enables the company to rapidly expand its capabilities as the business grows. “We will be using the parking analytics solution for all of our clients, which means potentially hundreds of locations, thousands of meters, and millions of parking sessions,” says Rob Matthews.

Transforming the business

“We originally thought our business was about parking compliance – but with analytics we’re seeing so many more avenues we can pursue,” says Matthews.

“We can help police by identifying nearby vehicles when a crime occurs. We can display targeted contextual offers from local merchants that are meaningful to drivers of particular types of car. We can even design demand-based pricing models.”

For example, MPS can now see correlations between hot weather, entertainment events, holidays and demand for parking near specific areas, such as parks or beaches – helping cities set a fair market price for each space.

Matthews comments: “Above all, we’re helping cities get smarter – not just increasing compliance, but also ensuring that everyone gets a fairer deal from municipal parking. Or put simplysomething that’s never happened before is happening. Everyone who parks, pays.”

Tom Hudson, CEO and co-founder of MPS, concludes: “We are very pleased to work with IBM and Findability Sciences. The unparalleled analytical power of technologies such as BigInsights and the unique tools of Findability combine to help us and our customer sift pearls of intelligence from masses of parking, traffic and video data. Meanwhile, SoftLayer empowers us to leverage highly scalable, high-performance cloud infrastructure, instead of building our own.

“This combination of technologies gives us the benefits of big data analytics: turning de-identified data into actionable items for the smarter city, and enabling new capabilities for merchants, consumers, traffic engineers, pollution management and new ideas to come.”