Sam Houston State University (SHSU), located just over an hour north of downtown Houston, enrolls more than 20,000 students (undergraduate and graduate combined). With student population increasing for both on-campus and commuting students, new construction that eliminated existing parking spaces, and a staff size that has not increased to accommodate these changes, SHSU Parking Services faced an unprecedented crunch on its viable parking alternatives. An overall lack of parking analytics often led to management decisions being made by conjecture of limited statistics rather than inferences based on targeted analysis.
Aging parking access equipment
Aging parking access equipment at the SHSU parking garage was driving a sub-optimal customer experience. SHSU staff spent an increasing amount of time responding to equipment issues rather than proactive customer service.
Legacy software limitations posed challenge to scaling
Due to rapid growth, the Parking and Transportation office could not scale to customer needs due to proprietary, outdated software and equipment.
Limited staff to meet demand
The parking staff lacked available time to enforce effectively and evaluate utilization of parking resources based on turnaround, dwell time, oversell of ePermits, and underutilization of resources. Many of the management decisions were based on subjective reasoning rather than driven by fact-based analysis.
“We took a very primitive, low-technology state of management to parking and evolved it into a highly technological field of parking that is bringing a higher quality of service to our students, faculty and staff.” — Matt McDaniel, Former Associate Director and Deputy Chief
LPR system for enforcement and e-citations
Since LPR enables efficient verification and issuance of e-citations for enforcement, SHSU has been able to eliminate the paper citation process. The paperless process eliminates unnecessary steps by notifying citation recipients electronically, allowing for quicker full enforcement tours in parking areas. Improved compliance has ultimately led to better availability of parking and happier customers.
The data produced by the LPR system simultaneously provides a high level of success by providing each customer with parking options that better suit their needs, since SHSU can interpret and apply LPR data to improve parking decisions based on quantified parking behavior.
Convert parking garage from a gated to a gateless model
Switching the Sam Houston Parking Garage from a gated to a gateless model offers customers numerous ways to pay (e.g., permit, meter, app, credit card on file, or departmental permit). The flexibility offered by the gateless system provides users with easy entry and exit from the garage while receiving updates on expiration, purchase of additional time and hands-free use. Customers are no longer late or frustrated with troublesome equipment.
SHSU installed multi-space pay stations linked to LPR technology for short-term parking. Fixed LPR cameras installed at each garage entry and exit automatically issue e-citations and ensure even enforcement. Using this LPR technology enabled SHSU to create a fine process for the garage to deter non-payment and recover all costs regarding identification and notification of registered owners of unknown vehicles culture.
Apply LPR data to ensure campus-wide security
Since SHSU Parking Services resides under the umbrella of the police department, safety is a primary concern. SHSU uses the data provided by LPR to enhance safety and security across campus by applying the data to verify welfare checks and to locate stolen vehicles. SHSU has switched to mobile and fixed LPR, which enables e-citations and virtual permits. This change has created a safer campus with happier clients, and a department with more revenue.
“People who work on campus and students who are on campus now are coming to us and saying ‘hey, you know what? This is going to work. I have parking now. This is much better than what we had before.” — Tammy Gustafson, Parking Office Manager
SHSU’s operation demonstrates real-world, quantifiable impact, proven by its increased revenue and customer satisfaction, despite fewer spaces (a reduction of 640 spaces this year) and a staff of 7 employees to manage 7,100 total spaces. Implementing this new system has enabled SHSU to gain MORE revenue over FEWER spaces without increasing staff size. During the first 12 months of implementation, SHSU experienced a 133% increase in citations, which provided nearly a $152,000 revenue increase.
“We’ve established a return on investment within year 1. Our current stand from where we’ve come, we’ve met a lot of our goals. You can scale back and forth and you’re really writing the rule book.” — Matt McDaniel, Former Associate Director and Deputy Chief
“Don’t settle! If your current system isn’t doing what you want it do, the technology is out there to be able to make you successful.” — Matt McDaniel, Former Associate Director and Deputy Chief