Ohio University Transportation and Parking Services (TPS) this spring will conduct a soft launch for the department’s new license plate recognition software, technology that will be used as OHIO moves toward a completely virtual parking campus in the next few years.
The software, called mobile license plate recognition, will initially only be used to more efficiently identify payment sessions within hourly parking areas on the Athens Campus. This integrated technology works with payments made via the Park Mobile application as well as pay stations located on campus.
In the future, this technology can be used in place of the permit hangtags that are currently issued to students and faculty and staff allowing Ohio University to become a virtual campus, but Interim Manager of Parking Services, Teresa Trussell, explained that the soft launch this spring will be contained to paid lots on the Athens Campus.
“The soft launch will allow TPS to get comfortable using the license plate recognition software while uncovering any challenges associated with introducing new technology to daily operations,” Trussell said. “This two-phased approach is a planned effort to mitigate unforeseen issues prior to implementation with our student and faculty/staff groups. We want to ensure a transition of this nature is as smooth as possible; therefore, we are starting off with a pilot group within the hourly parking areas only.”
Equipment and cameras will be installed on parking vehicles to scan the license plates of parked cars in University lots so hourly parking areas may be monitored in a more efficient method, which benefits customers by eliminating many data entry errors resulting from officer input. License plate photos are not retained or saved by the software for long-term storage, and scanning abilities are limited for the intended purpose only.
“While engaging with our customers on the Athens Campus, many provided feedback in response to permit tags that are inconvenient and can be forgotten if switched among multiple vehicles,” Trussell said. “As TPS looks ahead in developing a master plan for parking on the Athens Campus, we’re taking this feedback into consideration with the introduction of LPR software. The soft launch this spring is the first step to becoming a virtual campus.”
Transportation and Parking Services will continue to communicate with the campus community as this technology is developed.