The campus parking process will become more user-responsive, thanks to a new high-tech enforcement system soon to be unveiled by the U. of I. parking department.
The system will make parking hangtags a thing of the past and, using enhanced online capabilities, allow users to control personal parking accounts like never before.
“This will be a tremendous benefit to everyone on campus because it allows renewal and registration to be done entirely online,” said Michelle Wahl, parking department director. “It will empower users to manage their account based on their own transportation choices.”
Wahl said other benefits include the environmental impact of not having to replace hangtags, the elimination of lost or stolen hangtags, and reduced printing and mailing costs.
Using license-plate recognition technology, enforcement officers will be able to scan vehicle license plates to determine whether they have a valid virtual campus parking account.
The system will depend upon users providing accurate license plate and vehicle data, which can be added to or updated by phone or online.
“LPR works like a supermarket scanner, though it scans the license plate instead of a barcode,” Wahl said. “The numbers enter our database to verify your vehicle has been registered with the parking department.”
If the license plate doesn’t match the lot assignment in the parking database, the officer will issue a paper citation.
Wahl said many of the existing rules would apply with the new system, such as requiring users to park in the lot in which they have been assigned a permit.
Users can register multiple vehicles per permit, though the vehicles cannot be parked simultaneously in the same lot. Users also will be given two annual “virtual courtesy cards” to be used in the event a registered user parks an unregistered vehicle.
Replacing a vehicle other than the one registered is as simple as the user logging on and changing the license information in the online account. The information, as well as the license plate scans and analytic data, will be kept private and only used by parking department employees.
Lot assignments will not change with the new system.
“Enforcement will become much more efficient and compliance will improve,” she said. “Improved compliance allows us to control parking costs.”
Wahl said the new system is cost-effective and will improve efficiency. She said savings realized in the transition would be used for maintenance and to keep permit costs down.
The parking department also continues to study the campus parking system in anticipation of replacing two aging campus parking structures that serve some 700 employees. The study, led by a consultant, is expected to lead to a comprehensive parking master plan.