When Victor Hill arrived at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (UWL) in 2013, one of his top priorities was convincing the University of the benefits of License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology. Hill (Director of Parking and Transportation Services) and his colleagues embarked on three years of research and conversations with other universities who had employed LPR technology. Their hard work paid off—UWL leadership gave the green light in the spring of 2016, and UWL installed the system in August of that year.
(If you'd like, you can read the full story of UWL's journey to LPR with T2 and the results they're achieving in our Customer Success section).
So after all of the research and his own experience using LPR today, would Hill recommend LPR to other universities? Hill says he absolutely would. But to other universities looking to implement LPR, he has some words of experienced wisdom to share:
1. Don't just dive into it.
Don't just dive into it—make sure you give yourself a minimum of six months to manage your bad data and iron your bugs out. You'll find things that are unique to your operation that you need to adjust for.
2. Think beyond the go-live.
Once fully deployed, LPR becomes the centerpiece of your operation. Don't just look at how soon you're going to start using it—look at how it's going to affect everything you do. What will you do with your increased revenue? We looked at goodwill for our customers and service enhancements. Don't just think profit—take a longer view of what you can achieve.
3. Get ready to educate your parkers.
We put a short video on our site, and we also put out messages in a variety of platforms early and often. "Your plate is your permit" became our mantra, and it's stuck. Updating campus signage is part of that education as well.
4. Consider what other equipment upgrades could be involved.
Don't catch yourself short at implementation by not having all the necessary integrations in place.
5. Understand that big-picture university plans can impact your revenue, either short- or long-term.
Influences outside your day-to-day parking operations, like parking lots being taken over by university construction, will have an impact that you need to take into consideration.
6. Understand that your policies and processes will need to be adjusted, and there will be questions.
We've taken the route of total transparency. If a parker comes into our offices with questions/concerns about the technology works, we simply say, "Come back here around the desk and we'll show you. Or, if you prefer, ride along in the backseat with one of our campus enforcement officers." Those answers usually catch people off guard and diffuse a potentially confrontational situation. And we've actually had a couple of people take us up on those ride offers. Their response: "Wow, this is amazing."