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Mulgrave Road Sutton

Sutton Council to trial ‘Internet of Things’ technology to improve disabled parking service

Sutton Council will use internet enabled sensors to improve services for disabled car users.

The council expects to start trials within two weeks, following setbacks caused by nationwide supply chain disruptions.

The technology will allow the council to collect data on parking in the town centre over the course of a year, which can be used to guide policy making.

This scheme is part of the ‘InnOvaTe Project’ between the South London Partnership and five London councils using data collection to improve their services.

Sutton will join Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Richmond in a string of initiatives funded by the Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) as part of the London Councils Business Rates Retention scheme.

David Grasty, head of digital strategy and portfolio for Kingston and Sutton, said: “It’s really interesting stuff and I can really see the visible difference that it is making to people’s lives straightaway.

“We are already looking after residents in a care home with it, for example. It has specific use and has already saved a life.

“This technology has really matured. It used to be cutting edge and experimental. The change that’s happened in the technology enables these projects now to be really cost-effective and viable.”

The car parking sensors will be trialled for a year and assessed by the University of Essex for value.

Sutton Council is currently consulting on its Draft Sustainable Transport Strategy, which aims to cut down on private car use while ensuring disabled residents are not negatively affected.

If successful, the council will have rolling data on how and when parking bays are used to help them when making changes to the roads.

Data collected by the sensors will be anonymous and in accordance with GDPR policies that protect user privacy.

Emma Mahy, CEO of IoT Solutions Group, said: “Our aim at IoT Solutions Group is to use technology for good, so we are delighted to have been selected to continue our partnership with Sutton Council in addressing this important requirement.

“Innovative approaches, such as our smart parking solution, allow councils to make more informed decisions in a cost-effective way that was not possible before the dawn of technologies such as IoT.”

Neal Forse, chief technology officer at IoT Solutions Group, added: “There are many areas of public sector spending that can be improved in efficiency and save the taxpayers money.

“It’s a win-win. The end-user gets a more efficient experience and the assurance that they can park where they need to park.

“The council gets the data they need to make sure the balance is right when reducing the number of cars in towns without affecting disabled people.”

In recent years, IoT technologies have found use in manufacturing, transportation and property development, improving information gathering in the move towards reliable automation.

Use in local government has been ongoing since 2015, when then Chancellor George Osborne pledged £40m to upgrade Britain’s ‘smart cities’.

In the last month, flood sensor systems have been installed to track water levels in Sutton’s underground soakaways. This allows the council to prepare for and respond to flood warnings.

Sutton Council is optimistic that the sensors will help the area to stay proactive in managing environmental changes, keep costs low and minimise the need for emergency repairs.

Image: A P Monblat

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