Public spaces and parks maintenance is a complex task. There are many components that make a public space. The turf, the utilities, foots paths, amenities, playgrounds, even the carparks, they are all components of a public area.

So how do you plan improvements and maintenance ? You can use time based scheduling which takes into accounts historical information on usage. This is OK while the maintenance team knows the rate of use and the wear and tear rates for all components. It works, but it can be wasteful when parks hibernate due to social constraints or weather. In these situations maintenance schedules tend to automatically raise work orders without taking into account the lack of use. This leads to unnecessary visits by the maintenance teams.

And then there are the repairs which are usually triggered by either visual observation by maintenance teams or the general public through complains and feedback. Again, a well known method which, unfortunately, works by fixing a problem after it has occurred. We cannot eliminate all these processes but using data driven maintenance can really reduce the operational and maintenance costs.

Let’s explore a little.

What is data driven park maintenance ?

This method utilises new technologies, relatively inexpensive, to constantly collect and monitor the area usage and report on a real time basis to the relevant teams.

What can be monitored ?

  • water usage
  • energy usage
  • natural gas consumption
  • performance of irrigation systems using multi depth soil monitoring
  • water pumps
  • water monitoring in standing or slow moving water bodies
  • visitors attendance
  • etc.

While this list is not exhaustive, it presents a good indication of park use and also gives a good indication of wear and tear.

For every single line the the above mentioned list there is an automatic, easy to install and virtually maintenance free sensor that can be deployed. Monitoring all these factors does not have to be a complicated or expensive exercise.

How is the data relevant or how is it used ?

Park attendance gives a good indication on foot traffic and use of amenities. The sensors used to collect this data completely anonymous are also extremely useful in understanding vehicle parking usage and performance.

Gas, water and energy monitoring by feed and circuit indicate how often barbecues and rest rooms are actually used. Combined with park attendance sensors, data collected around seating areas and barbecues help planing of expansion and improvements. It is easy to see the ratio of time spent around certain areas versus others. This can lead to a re-positioning of the seating areas closer or further or even to the increase of seating area numbers before the park is reported as too crowded and unattractive.

Water and aerator pumps monitoring give information on real time pump performance. Once we combine this information with O2 readings from standing or slow moving water bodies (ponds, lakes) we can then determine the efficiency of the system. Furthermore, the O2 levels can also then be used as triggers for aerator pumps. If pump usage can be reduced to as-needed basis, maintenance on bearings, energy use, etc, can be reduced dramatically. This saves maintenance and running costs in the same time.

What technology is used ?

  • Water consumption monitoring – meter monitoring
  • Water health monitoring using specialised sensors and IoT telemetry
  • Energy monitoring for electrical circuits feeding the pumps
  • Gas use monitoring – meter interface using dedicated devices
  • Soil moisture monitoring on multiple levels using Enviropro sensors connected to IoT telemetry
  • Park and amenities usage using crowd density monitoring
  • For remote sites water tank level monitoring
  • Data collection possibly on LoRaWAN network with backhaul on LAN, 4G, or even satellite

All of the above sensors have been used extensively. SimplyCity has integrated in every single aspect and the entire system reports using the SimplyControl platform. Furthermore, pump activation based on O2 reading is done via the same platform and utilising control devices attached to the pumps’ power feeds.

System such as the one described above present and excellent ROI. Immediate savings on maintenance costs (material, time, fuel, etc) off-set the initial investment very fast. The maintenance of the system is minimal and quite often restricted to some of the sensors’ cleaning. This is a fast procedure with very low costs associated.