A new license plate recognition system will help UCCS Parking and Transportation Services enforce parking lots more efficiently when it debuts this fall.
Enforcement officers will use a camera-based system to scan license plates of cars in UCCS parking lots to check permits, spot repeat offenders and check for cars that are allowed on campus without permits.
“It’s so exciting, and it’s really cool,” said Jim Spice, executive director, Parking and Transportation Services. “It’s 15 times more efficient than our current system in terms of enforcement.”
Permits went on sale 8 a.m. July 19, with payroll deduction forms distributed by campus mail. Valid parking permits are required to be displayed by the first day of fall classes on Aug. 22.
The new system will require students, faculty and staff who buy a parking permit to supply the license plate numbers of the car or cars they plan to park on campus. The system will allow permit holders to register up to four cars but park only one on campus at a time, Spice said. Cars will need to be parked in lots in such a way that the camera can read the plate.
Permit holders also will display a hanging permit in their car until the new license plate recognition system is fully rolled out by fall 2017.
In the past, three parking enforcement officers walked the lots to check for valid permits, carrying a device that prints tickets, a camera to photograph parking offenders, a list of “do not ticket” cars and a list of cars that need to be booted.
The new system will use two cameras mounted on a car, an iPhone 6 phone and a small printer. Spice plans to have two enforcement officers in the car – one to drive, the other to monitor the system and print tickets. As the enforcement officer drives through a parking lot, each camera will scan license plates on cars and instantly match those plates with the UCCS parking system. Officers will still issue tickets on the spot, but they won’t need to read lists of license plates that shouldn’t be ticketed and cars whose owners have overdue fines. The license plate reader system will cost about $60,000, Spice said.
The system is designed to improve efficiency, reduce ticketing mistakes and more quickly ticket cars that don’t have permits, thereby freeing up spaces for cars with parking privileges, he said.
Currently, the campus has three parking enforcement officers who can check about two cars per minute each. The campus has about 4,000 parking spots. Spice estimates it would take one person 33 hours to enforce every parking spot on campus. “We don’t get to that many vehicles that often,” he said.
Using the new system, it will take an officer about 96 minutes to check the plates of cars parked in every lot.
The move to the new system won’t eliminate any jobs, Spice said. The third parking enforcement officer will be able to check hard-to-reach parking areas, for example.
Visitor parking lots will move to the new system, too, he said. This will require entering a license plate number at the visitor pay station. The move will also provide the option of both paying by cell and extending by cell for hourly parking, essentially eliminating the need for visitors to stand in line at campus pay stations.
CU Boulder has used a license plate reader system for about five years, Spice said. UCCS will continue to issue permits for the 2016-17 year while the new system is launched. By 2017-18 Spice hopes to eliminate permits altogether, relying solely on license plate reading technology.
— Photo by Joanna Bean