License plate recognition tech in NY muni lot

| April 19, 2013

What if parking in a permit-required lot went like this: you pull into the lot, drive to your assigned space, parked, and then just . . . left? You wouldn’t need to root around for that pesky hang tag that fell off your rearview mirror, or peel the backing off the parking sticker you got in the mail. You could just take your keys out of the ignition and walk away.

Starting June 1, that’s exactly what permit holders at the train-station parking lot at Croton-on-Hudson Village in New York will be able to do. That’s because the lot will begin using a License Plate Recognition (LPR) system, technology more typically associated with the police, who tend to use it for electronic fee collection on toll roads or for road-rule enforcement. The technology relies on optical character recognition (OCR) to match scanned images with handwritten or typewritten text, such as Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records.

Wall of license plates

License plate recognition technology is still largely untested – but soon, plates like these may function as parking permits in some lots. Via; licensed under Creative Commons.

Before June 1, permit holders, who are classed as resident, non-resident, or preferred, will have their license plates scanned and then compared with an electronic list of plate numbers provided by valid permit holders. After validation, drivers can simply pull into the lot, head for their assigned parking lot section, park, and then leave.

The new system will replace the parking decals in use under the current system. Permit holders will also be required to set up an online account, where they must enter the make and model of their vehicles, license plate numbers, and other information. Payment for permits may be made online and will be sold on a quarterly basis. Permit holders will receive an email notification reminding them to purchase a permit for the next quarter; no automatic payment-renewal process has been created as of yet.

A car equipped with a LPR camera will circle the lot scanning plates several times a day to enforce the new system. Cars with plates that don’t match a valid permit in the computerized permit database or that aren’t parked in their assigned space will be ticketed.

Sequentially numbered parking permit

LPR is the parking permit’s big competition – but will efficiency gains warrant the much higher cost to implement? Via

Concern about efficient management of the lot prompted the switch to the new system. Since 2011, demand for non-resident and preferred permits has risen dramatically; currently, more than 300 names are on the waitlist. (Residents are not waitlisted.) Calls for daily parking (available in the lot’s Section F) have also increased, which conforms to findings from a demand study conducted by the engineering and architecture firm of Tim Haahs & Associates in 2011. And, apart from property taxes, the lot is the single biggest source of revenue for the town of 8,070. Its efficient operation is a key concern for those responsible for keeping the public ledger in the black.

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Category: LPR

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.
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