License plate scanning system increases efficiency in delivering parking citations


Parking Services has a new tool in its arsenal to enforce parking permits.

Instead of using ‘parking ambassadors’ to walk through lots and enforce citations, the new system replaces them with a driver in a Chevy Impala, armed with two cameras mounted on the back, which are connected to a computer system inside the vehicle.

“We have a system that runs up and down the parking lanes taking pictures of all the license plates,” Parking Services Administrator Jason Soren said. “The system will then coordinate back to your account to tell us if that license plate is supposed to be parked in that lot that it’s parked at.”

The system, purchased by the university this summer, patrols campus lots at least twice a day and has made the department much more efficient, according to Soren.

“Four days in, we’ve covered the campus twice a day for the last three [or] four days, so we’re covering the whole campus two [or] three times, whereas last year we barely got a third of the campus covered in four days,” Soren said.

Parking Services can now identify and ticket vehicles without permits in seconds and allows Parking Services to cover six times more ground than before.

 Within minutes, and with just one drive down a commuter lot lane, the system identified four vehicles violating parking policy near the Agricultural Heritage Museum Aug. 24.

Though identifying unapproved cars has changed, the ticketing process will stay the same. Drivers parked incorrectly will still find a citation left on their windshield.

While Parking Services officials see this as a welcome change, students have differing opinions. 

Sophomore business economics major Hayley Halverson said it’s easier for Parking Services, but isn’t pleased with the new system. 

“I think that people will have to get more parking permits, and they’re also going to get a lot more tickets,” she said. “If a vehicle can just drive through a parking lot, then it’s more likely you’ll get caught.” 

Matthew Sebert, a senior advertising major, admitted he often parks in lots where his parking permit does not allow, but he hopes the new system will bring positive change.

“Hopefully it takes some of the pressure off the commuting lots that we park in,” Sebert said.

Soren expects citations to increase this year. While he doesn’t like giving out citations, he said it’s all about being fair to those who buy parking permits. 

“We’re just trying to bring it back to that fairness that everybody’s treated the same way; everybody has citations and hopefully it will lead to making sure there’s more open spots for students to park,” Soren said. 

For her fellow students who still choose to risk parking in the wrong place, Halverson had one warning.

“Watch out; if you park in the wrong place, you’re probably going to get a ticket.”