Campus Security brought in new innovations this semester to ease parking woes around Belmont and keep campus safe.
Transitioning from a vehicle registration system with physical permits, student parking is now managed by a digital parking system. Now, officers can go through every garage and lot on campus in an hour — a task that would previously have taken several officers an entire day.
“This new system allows us to get back to things we want to do, which is to focus on the things that are higher priorities than parking enforcement,” Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said.
But the new management system will do more than just check for parking violations.
The system will allow campus security to track vehicle activity on campus and assist the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department with information on criminal activity in the area.
“If Metropolitan Police Department notifies us today and says there has been a series of vehicle break-ins and they're looking for a vehicle with a certain license plate number, we can put that in the system. And then if that vehicle comes on the campus, it'll give us an alert," Cunningham said.
For the new system to be most effective, every student with a car must register it into the system, said Deputy Chief of Campus Security Mark Labbe.
“Minimizing congestion doesn't get done without people registering their vehicles,” Labbe said. “If they register, and they pay attention to information we put out, and they park where they're supposed to, there is very low chance that they will have any problems with parking.”
Beginning this semester, students are required to register their vehicles online instead of receiving a physical parking decal.
Once a student registers their vehicle, their license plate number will be added to a virtual parking manager. Officers then use a license plate recognition system to determine if people are parked in the correct area.
While commuter students can park almost anywhere, on-campus students are assigned certain floors of a particular garage to park their cars, which can sometimes prove problematic.
“Parking on campus this year has been OK so far,” sophomore Gwen Papapanagiotou said. “The worst thing I have experienced is overcrowding in the areas that are designated for us. The number of halls assigned to certain areas like the Johnson Garage has made it hard to find anywhere to park.”
Campus Security plans to use the technology to solve overflow issues. The goal, said Cunningham, is to eventually be able to inform commuter students where parking is available, increasing parking efficiency and reducing traffic congestion around campus.
“15th Avenue and Acklen can be pretty congested with vehicles coming into campus and vehicles exiting campus,” Cunningham said. “There is also pedestrian traffic across there. With this new system, we're going to look at ways to reduce that congestion by directing people to other areas to park.”
Although the new system makes students’ parking passes obsolete, they can still show off the classic stickers on their cars.
“I like the new change because I don’t have to worry about getting the physical pass,” sophomore Graham Cook said. “I still have my old one on my car just for fun, but I think the digital pass is easier.”
PHOTO: Belmont parking passes Isaac Wetzel/Belmont Vision
This story was written by Zoe Spangler