The City of San Marcos in Texas will begin using automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) technology to help enforcement officers manage downtown parking from March 1.
The city has contracted with Texas-based NuPark to provide a comprehensive cloud-based parking management system, fully integrated with enforcement, citation and permit functionalities. The mobile license plate recognition enforcement allows the city to automate the process with more accuracy and efficiency. Originally developed and used at the Texas Tech University’s parking and transportation department, NuPark’s technology is now used at more than 80 locations in 30 states.
The company’s vehicle-mounted LPR system captures two photos of observed vehicles: a context photo of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings, and a photo of the license plate. The photos are not of a resolution that allows identification of vehicle occupants if they are present.
Along with the photographic data, the system also records the global positioning system (GPS) coordinates and date/time information of the observation. San Marcos’ parking enforcement officers will regularly monitor all areas with time-limited parking restrictions, which are primarily downtown. If a vehicle remains parked in the same location in excess of the posted time limit, the LPR system will notify the officer and a citation may be issued.
Parking enforcement officers are responsible for managing a wide range of parking-related offenses. In 2016, the city’s parking enforcement team issued 6,742 warnings and citations for infractions, such as parking in front of a mailbox, parking in a handicap space without a permit, and parking in excess of posted time limits downtown. On-street parking throughout downtown San Marcos is limited to two hours, Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm.
“We were interested in a technology-driven solution for parking enforcement that could interface with our existing systems, and have the capacity to expand and adapt as our approach to parking management becomes more sophisticated,” explained Kevin Burke, the city’s economic development and downtown administrator.
“What we heard from our community outreach was a desire for enhanced enforcement of our existing on-street time restrictions to provide more available parking by encouraging turnover. We determined that LPR parking enforcement could be a good first step, allowing us to increase enforcement while facilitating data collection that will guide our implementation of other parking management strategies in the future.”