Li­cense plate read­ers at UA to be de­layed

Cam­eras will de­tect park­ing scofflaws

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JAIME ADAME

FAYETTEVILLE — The Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville has de­layed a plan to uti­lize cam­era-based tech­nol­ogy to en­force park­ing reg­u­la­tions, slow­ing the adop­tion of a sys­tem in place at cam­puses in other states but de­scribed by UA’s top park­ing of­fi­cial as be­lieved to be a first for an Arkansas school.

Stu­dents now pur­chas­ing an­nual per­mits to re­place those ex­pir­ing Aug. 15 will re­ceive de­cals, with the univer­sity pay­ing for print­ing costs, said Gary Smith, UA’s direc­tor of tran­sit and park­ing.

He said the new li­cense plate recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy, some­times known as LPR, will in fu­ture years elim­i­nate a need for park­ing de­cals in ve­hi­cles.

“We didn’t or­der a full year’s worth of per­mits, know­ing we’re go­ing to even­tu­ally get LPR work­ing,” Smith said. He said he did not have a pre­cise es­ti­mate on how much UA will

spend on per­mits, but he said it should be less than half that spent in a typ­i­cal year and might be less than $15,000, with univer­sity staff plan­ning to han­dle mail-out du­ties.

He said an­nual costs to the univer­sity in other years to­taled about $70,000 if mail­ing ex­penses were in­cluded with de­cal print­ing costs.

The univer­sity is­sued 28,945 park­ing per­mits in fis­cal year 2016, ac­cord­ing to its most re­cent an­nual re­port. With in­creased en­roll­ment in re­cent years, the num­ber of avail­able spa­ces has not kept pace.

A tran­sit mas­ter plan writ­ten by con­sul­tants af­ter a 2015 visit to the UA cam­pus noted that “the dif­fer­ence be­tween the num­ber of en­rolled stu­dents and park­ing spa­ces on cam­pus is at its largest in over 27 years.”

The plan also noted, how­ever, “that at the busiest time of day, there are more than 3,500 un­used park­ing spa­ces on cam­pus.”

Once in place, the li­cense plate recog­ni­tion sys­tem will of­fer more park­ing op­tions, Smith said, with stu­dents able to pur­chase per­mis­sions for shorter time pe­ri­ods, like a sum­mer-only per­mis­sion, for ex­am­ple.

Texas Tech Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Kansas are among cam­puses to adopt li­cense plate recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy, with Smith last year telling the univer­sity’s staff se­nate that us­ing car-mounted cam­eras to mon­i­tor park­ing lots would be “more ef­fi­cient and prob­a­bly catch more peo­ple” in spa­ces with­out per­mis­sion.

As re­cently as May, the univer­sity said the new sys­tem would be in place by July.

But test­ing of car-mounted cam­eras has yet to hap­pen, Smith said.

“We have a lot of things that have to be set up in the new sys­tem,” Smith said, de­scrib­ing the de­lay as caused by un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the work in­volved. He de­clined to say when the new sys­tem might be in place.

In Jan­uary, the univer­sity, af­ter ac­cept­ing bids, se­lected Texas-based NuPark to pro­vide the tech­nol­ogy. Ex­pen­di­ture records show UA paid $113,683.51 to NuPark in March. Smith said UA paid half of the tech­nol­ogy costs up front and ex­pects to pay the rest once the sys­tem is fully op­er­a­tional.

Arkansas law­mak­ers cited pri­vacy con­cerns in draft­ing a state law, Act 1491 of 2013, that strictly reg­u­lates the data cap­tured by li­cense-plate read­ers.

Car-mounted cam­eras cap­ture im­ages of li­cense plates, which are then com­pared us­ing com­puter tech­nol­ogy to a list of ve­hi­cles. The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union has de­scribed the use of li­cense plate read­ers as a surveil­lance tech­nol­ogy, with in­for­ma­tion data­bases con­tain­ing the lo­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion of any and all mo­torists pass­ing by.

Arkansas law­mak­ers re­stricted who can use the tech­nol­ogy, carv­ing out ex­emp­tions for po­lice and park­ing en­force­ment en­ti­ties. Data may be kept for no more than 150 days un­less it’s part of an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to state law.

Smith said the law also re­quires a data pol­icy to be de­vel­oped by an en­tity uti­liz­ing the tech­nol­ogy. He said the univer­sity is work­ing on such a pol­icy and will com­ply with the state law.

The sys­tem, once in place, should al­low for more in­for­ma­tion to be shared via smart­phone, Smith said.

“We’ll even­tu­ally have an app that will show where all of the avail­able park­ing is at any time dur­ing the day,” Smith said.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Cars sit Fri­day in Lot 71 on the Univer­sity of Arkansas cam­pus in Fayetteville. A planned change to a new sys­tem of park­ing en­force­ment has been de­layed, forc­ing the univer­sity to con­tinue is­su­ing per­mit de­cals for the com­ing aca­demic year.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Cars sit Fri­day in Lot 71 on the Univer­sity of Arkansas cam­pus in Fayetteville. A planned change to a new sys­tem of park­ing en­force­ment has been de­layed, forc­ing the univer­sity to con­tinue is­su­ing per­mit de­cals for the com­ing aca­demic year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.