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Normal parking goes digital

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Normal parking says goodbye to pen and paper as it updates the system digitally.

Plans will soon be put in place for a new electronic system that breaks away from the current handwritten system. The electronic system allows for parking tickets and violations to be processed immediately through laptops that will be installed in all squad cars and the parking enforcement vehicle.

The computerized aspect allows for tickets to be in the system within minutes after issued and will be available for online payment.

The second portion of the system is a camera recognition system that will recognize license plates, mark parking positions and track how long a vehicle has been parked in a certain area. This will require a parking officer to drive around with the two-camera recognition system that takes pictures of cars and send the information to a cloud system. This will be integrated with the electronics system for tickets.

The current system has officers writing tickets by hand which are taken to the finance department and entered manually in the system by a fiscal clerk.

“We will certainly use technology every chance we get,”  Chief of Police Rick Bleichner says.

The electronic system will eliminate one parking enforcement officer and a fiscal clerk as parking enforcement officers will be able to more easily cover a large area of town and the fiscal clerk will not need to enter the information manually.

Bleichner says the employee cuts are a downside but are necessary as the positions are no longer needed. The cuts will help fund the new system.

Bleichner hopes the new system will decrease confusion and disputes like the appealing of parking tickets over amount of time cited on the tickets.

“It will make our efforts more efficient and we will be timelier in doing that,” he added.

Other parking violations in Normal include time limits, parking in front of fire hydrants, parking on a non-hard surface, parking against traffic, parking too close to a crosswalk, stop sign or intersection, blocking a driveway or violating a parking ban.

In the event of a parking ban, cars cannot be parked on the street and must be relocated to a driveway, parking garage or parking lot.

Parking issues and lack of close parking is a complaint in Normal, especially around campus. Problems arise more frequently in the fall, when students first arrive to campus.  The town receives more neighborhood complaints during this time because students’ cars line the streets.

The company that provides the new system is based out of Indianapolis. The system is common in Europe, especially Great Britain where it is used for face recognition and terrorist investigation.

The system has gained popularity in the U.S. for traffic violations in the last eight to nine years.

(Ashley Koenig / Photographer) New electronic systems are coming to Normal to help monitor parking. Parking violations will be heavily enforced as lack of parking spaces remains an issue in Normal.

(Ashley Koenig / Photographer)
New electronic systems are coming to Normal to help monitor parking. Parking violations will be heavily enforced as lack of parking spaces remains an issue in Normal.

One Response

  1. David Shaw

    I do see a problem with this idea. As a commuter, I look for free parking around Bloomington-Normal. I mean why pay for what you can get for free right? I have found a parking area that requires the driver to move their vehicle once every twenty-four hours. Assuming the cameras are mounted on the police vehicles, how will the camera know a person moved? I have classes nearly every day, and I park in roughly the same spot every day. Will the cameras be able to coordinate the different shifts or will the officer’s computer that scans my car everyday at 1:30 in the afternoon flag me as a parking offender?

    I know that there are similar problems when real people write tickets, but a computer isn’t even going to think about circumstances surrounding a parked vehicle, whether it has moved five feet since yesterday, or whether it was there at 11 o’clock last night. It will only do what it is programmed for, which in the introduction phase is usually too strict or to lax.

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