DIGITAL PARKING PERMITS USE LICENSE PLATE RECOGNITION
19 Feb 2015
University of Wisconsin, Green Bay (UWGB) selected gtechna and 3M to upgrade its campus parking permit system. By adopting a digital parking permit solution the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay also known as the “Eco-U”, continues to honor a historic focus on environmental sustainability which has roots in its early days of higher education.
The permit system is integrated with gtechna’s plate detection software and 3M license plate recognition (LPR) cameras installed on police vehicles to manage 4700 parking spaces and 13 lots on campus. On an average day the plate system scans up to 5000 plates in a shift. UWGB Police Chief Tomas Kujawa stated that “Previously, patrolling lots was done with a piecemeal approach, usually covering one lot daily. With the speed and precision of the plates system we sweep our entire campus within 45 minutes which empowers our team to go out and dedicate more time to campus safety and less on monitoring parking lots.”
In terms of campus safety, the new permit system’s LPR component is connected to both state and federal databases. The system aids in investigations and criminal hotlist alerts that would be typical of an officer’s duties when on the field such as BOLO (be on the lookout) and stolen vehicle alerts as well as advisories regarding on-campus incidents.
The digital parking permit system also received accolades from the student body, “we actually received a round of applause when introducing it” Kujawa enthused. The police department’s main goal when adopting the new parking software was to avoid disrupting the original business rules and to create a virtual permitting system that better aligned with the tech-savvy sensibilities of the student population. Permit sharing for multiple vehicles under the same pass and ‘5 time rule’ visitor monitoring, a program set up to create the best user experience for short term parkers, were the top requirements when evaluating what parking system to go with.
“Before we had a paperless system, 60% of car decals did not correspond to the correct license plate. There was no way of identifying which permit belonged to who; we ended up voiding 50% of our tickets; this was a huge loss in time, operational and ticket costs”, Kujawa commented. Often a user would switch vehicles and forget to register the new plates under her permit; with permit sharing, during registration an opt-in service allows students to set up a permit online. The plate information connected to the permit is immediately accessible by the LPR system. Once registered, students can add/remove plate numbers associated with a virtual permit when convenient. Students no longer need to miss class waiting in long lines to collect a hangtag and permit decal at Campus Services. “Students love the convenience factor and very few are receiving tickets unless they have earned it with this flexible, intelligent system”, added Kujawa.
The UWGB police wanted campus guests to have the best experience possible. The LPR system allows staff to create the business rules needed for this to happen. Visitors are given four free passes before being required to acquire a permit on the fifth visit. The ‘5 time rule’ for visitors was a very important convenience factor the Police department wanted to ensure was in place on campus. It also made sense from an operational standpoint to conserve resources to process longer term parkers. The Chief noted that “We were spending $20K-$25K operating a parking ‘hut’ that basically gave out free visitor permits and the occasional $4 student day pass; to maintain such a system was just not cost efficient; the ‘5 times free’ visitor rule we developed on gtechna’s software reigned in costs and greatly improved services”.
“In most cases, we are seeing fewer tickets issued in error and fewer alerts”, Kujawa stated adding, “This has culminated in a higher compliance rate and better use of parking assets as well as administrative savings from fewer voided tickets or court appeals.”
“Overall cost savings trickle down directly to students,” stated Mike Bourre, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at gtechna. “By eliminating redundancies and improving operations the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay can offer very affordable parking amenities to students, staff, faculty and visitors and all this, while helping foster a safe thriving academic community.”