Photograph by Kirk Smith
Smart meters accept credit cards as well as coins.
Smart meters for parking and utilities are making Newark an even more convenient place to live, work and play. Visitors to downtown Newark are finding convenient and accessible parking, thanks to smart meters, centrally located lots and online information that takes the guesswork out of planning a trip.
“With meters enabled by credit card, you no longer have to put in coins or walk into a business and ask for change,” says Marvin Howard, administrator of the city’s parking division. People have the opportunity to shop longer now. It’s a win-win for the city and consumers. Because it’s easier to pay for parking, ticketing has declined sharply. Parking revenues have increased.
Don’t have a credit card or prefer to do things the traditional way? No worries. Meters also accept coins. In recent years, the city has increased the number of parking spaces by about 50 percent. Motorists can find lot locations and other details about parking online (www.cityofnewarkde.us/parking). You can go to our website, and it will tell you which meters are two-hour meters and which are four hours,” Howard says.
The city also will be adding signage at the sidewalk level to make it easier to identify the locations of lots. “Most of our parking lots are behind buildings, so we do the best we can to help people to find their lot,” Howard says. In addition to smarter parking meters, city water and electric utility customers have been upgraded to more accurate and reliable smart meters that automatically transmit usage data back to the city’s utility billing staff. Additionally, customers can log into online accounts and view their daily consumption readings.
The technology has decreased pressure on the city’s operating budget through reduced labor costs. “We’re leaner and meaner because of smart metering,” says Carol Houck, city manager. “We don’t have to have people go out and physically read [water and electric] meters. There’s been some consolidation of departments.” More accurate energy information also will empower people to be better stewards of their resources and reduce their bills. A new website will help consumers measure their utility use while helping them conserve energy and make more informed choices.