The University Record, April 23, 2001

U-M will test high-tech parking system

By Diane DeLaTorre
Parking and Transportation Services

Gates soon will be used to control access to University parking, if a pilot program conducted by Parking and Transportation Services is as effective here as it has been at other universities.

Work will begin shortly on the project, which uses Automatic Vehicle Identification Technology (AVI), the same technology used at toll roads for nonstop service by those who have prepaid fees. While this new system won’t guarantee a parking space at your first choice of location, it will limit access to University lots and structures to those with valid parking permits.

“Parking demand at the Ann Arbor campus has reached an all-time high, and with all the planned new construction, it will continue to be challenging,” said Pat Cunningham, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “Monitors posted at entrances this past academic year were quite effective in controlling access to Central Campus structures, but a more efficient method to provide this control at our structures, including those on the Medical Campus, is needed.”

M-Card IDs have been used for several years at six locations around campus to control access. However, expanding that process systemwide had two major drawbacks: customer inconvenience and the time required for each driver to stop and swipe cards through readers.

Anticipated benefits of the AVI system include quick, hands-free access; facility counts that will alert parkers via electronic signs when parking areas are full; and more space for Gold and Blue permit parkers, since illegal parkers will be prevented from entering.

“We expect this system to improve parking availability for faculty and staff,” Cunningham noted.

How will the system work? AVI antennas installed at entry and exit lanes will read AVI tags mounted in each vehicle and send the tag number to a database management system for verification. It takes only a few seconds to verify access and open the gates.

The system will be tested in three locations on the Central and Medical campuses during the next few months. The goal is to install it at all structures and several larger surface lots. To check the progress of the pilot program or to learn more about the system, visit the Web at www.parking.umich.edu. Project updates will be posted beginning in June.