Late this summer the Parking and Transportation Services purchased a vehicle with license plate recognition (LPR) capabilities. The vehicle has a computer system that runs two cameras which scan license plates through the system and enters the information into a database.
The goal for the vehicle is to someday get rid of sticker permits completely. Instead of putting a sticker on their windshields, permit holders would simply have to renew their permits online with their license plate number.
Parking and Transportation Services believes this is a cost-effective plan for the university because it would save money by eliminating the need to purchase permits each new semester and additional money could be saved by cutting labor costs.
The car is a more efficient way of regulating the parking permits on campus, and can scan a parking lot much faster than any person on foot. This gives the “ambassadors,” i.e. citation writers, more time for customer service.
JC Porter, assistant director of Transportation and Parking Services, said the department would use money saved by using the car on more parking spaces and lots.
According to Porter, with the LPR, ambassadors can now focus on helping those who are lost or in need of service in some way and focus less on writing citations.
Porter said this vehicle is a tool used to “reallocate time for the ambassadors.”
“It is basically an enforcement officer that goes really fast,” Porter said.
The department has yet to see much difference as the vehicle is still in the implementation process and there are still bugs that need to be worked out.
Porter stressed there was a large misunderstanding on campus this vehicle will be used to catch more offenders and write more citations. Porter said Parking and Transportation Services does not make money off citations.
The department sees citations as a form of customer service to those who purchase permits because people pay a lot of money to park in specific spots.
“There is a misconception that we make a lot of money off of citations, but we actually lose money on citations,” said Porter. “It costs more to hire ambassadors and buy the citation itself than what we get from the citation. The actual money brought in is less than the actual money spent on the citation.”