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New Space Counting System Coming to Belmont Garages

The Belmont University Office of Campus Security will provide an estimation of parking space availability by installing new software in parking garage cameras. 

The hope is that the data from this new software will help to improve the safety of pedestrians walking to class while also helping commuter students allot the time needed to park on campus.  

“We can already gather the data now, the goal is to have a functioning pilot of it going on this summer,” said Deputy Chief Mark Labbé. 

Labbé said that they hope to have this in effect by fall 2024, but the timeline may change.  

License plate recognition cameras were installed prior to the fall of this year and have been a helpful tool for the Office of Campus Security.  

“If we get a call about a student that they can’t locate, we go ‘where is their car’ and we can start there to see if they are even here on campus,” said Chief Pat Cunningham.  

He said it is much more efficient to use the cameras to determine who is using the garages and what groups are using the garages at specific times. 

A system similar to this has been implemented at Baylor University, where they have seen positive results, said Cunningham. 

The data is planned to be shown to the Belmont community on the myBelmont parking portal page by a red, yellow and green color coordinating method that has not been finalized.

Green will mean that there is a lot of space in the garage, yellow will mean the garage is around 75 – 90% full and red will mean it is 90% full, said Cunningham.  

“If it’s red, and most of north garages will be at peak times, then go to one where you think it’s yellow, or better still green and come in that way,” said Cunningham.  

An overall plan is to try to reduce morning parking garage and pedestrian traffic. 

“The hope of that is not only does it get people to park easier more efficiently, but it clears up a lot of that congestion we have on the roundabout... by Ayers,” said Labbé. 

Commuter student Trey Collins said cars can get stuck in the roundabout and not move.  

“I don’t even mess with it. Usually, I just park in the Curb and then I’ll just walk over because if I try to drive over there, kids are walking and there’s no crossing guards,” said Collins. 

It is sometimes hard for pedestrians to walk on crosswalks, said Belmont student Hailey Dallas.  

“It definitely feels like people going on the crosswalk don’t have the right of way,” said Dallas. “And you feel bad because you know how many people are in line and you don’t want to hold them up by being the one person on the crosswalk, but you are allowed to go.” 

The hope is for students to check the data on the myBelmont page before getting into their cars, and then again once students arrive on campus, said Labbé.   

The goal is to give some indication on the best way to come to campus in hopes of avoiding congestion, while also helping each person park in a timely manner.  

“We can make sure if somebody is coming to campus, and they expect to be able to find a space, they find a space,” said Cunningham. 

This article was written by Elisabeth Gage

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