April 19, 2024

After years of parking struggles as the university has grown, CBU may have finally cracked the code with its new and improved system. 

Safety Services has reimagined its student parking program, ditching physical stickers and moving entirely to digital identification designed to boost efficiency and security.

Now, CBU will enforce parking regulations through its license-plate scanning technology, an update that Safety Services integrated into its welcome pavilions and patrol vehicles throughout the summer. 

According to Christian Dinco, assistant director of Safety Services, the new system’s primary purpose is to improve efficiency. Because of the advanced license plate-reading software, patrolling parking lots has become quicker and more frequent.

“We have a mobile unit that we drive around that has mobile scanners on it,” Dinco said. “It takes about a second to get the information and it appears on a screen. You can be driving five miles an hour, and it is getting plate reads on each side of the aisle and telling us if they have a permit, if they don’t have a permit and if they’re in the right area.”

As the patrol car passes vehicles in a lot, the system processes plates through two opposite-facing cameras mounted on top of the car. A touchscreen device that operates the software will release one of three audio cues, indicating whether a car has a permit, a permit for a different lot or no permit. 

When a parking violation is detected, the data is transmitted to an officer’s handheld device, which can immediately print a ticket. 

“Previously, we’d have to physically walk, look for stickers, find out if they’re in the right zone, and call to find out if permits were updated and current,” Dinco said. “It was a very labor-intensive project to print tickets. We could do it, but we couldn’t clear as much ground.”

Because of the volume of students parking in the wrong lots, many students believe there are not enough spots available. 

“Despite having the parking structure, I feel that there isn’t enough parking for us commuters or students in general,” said Michael Meenan, senior software engineering major. 

Dinco said he believes the solution requires firmer guidelines.

“The goal is not to print out parking tickets,” Dinco said. “Students pay enough, and we don’t want to hit them with a parking fee. But if we’re going to get people to park in the right spot, enforcement has to be a part of it.”

Vehicle registration is now entirely online, instead of students waiting in line at the post office for a physical sticker. The digital permits also provide Safety Services with precise data that was previously inaccessible. 

At any time, Dinco can pull up a webpage of statistics detailing how many students have permits in each separate lot and the type of permit each person has: first-year student, upperclassman, commuter or faculty. 

This new information assists Safety Services in indentifying students entering the campus as well. 

Adam Alexander, junior business administration major, said that while working night shifts over the summer at the welcome pavilions, he sometimes had difficulty identifying incoming vehicles.

“Sometimes people without stickers didn’t understand they needed to stop and would drive past me, or their windows were highly tinted, making it difficult to see the sticker,” Alexander said.

Because of the new “security desk program,” employees working at the booth can now scan cars coming onto campus after hours and check them with the school database without leaving the booth. 

“The overall vision is that each welcome pavilion is scanning the plates and will give the person that’s working the welcome pavilion immediate notice within 1.2 seconds of whether that vehicle is currently registered as a staff, student or faculty and belongs on campus,” Dinco said.

When a vehicle that is not registered attempts to enter the campus during night hours, an alarm will go off, notifying the security worker. Additionally, students can notify Safety Services of active restraining orders, and Safety Services will update the database to block individuals from entering the school. This also applies to students expelled from CBU.

According to Dinco, the system will be fully operational by October and students should expect a significant improvement in parking accessibility and overall safety.

“We try to have a little oasis here in Riverside, where students and staff can feel safe,” Dinco said. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to utilize the technology, good personnel and teamwork.”  

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