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Sensors, counter gauge availability of parking spaces

March 25, 2003

By Elivia Aguilar

Monday was the first day for the computerized space-counting system on Speight Plaza Parking Garage to be in operation. A sign at the top of each garage entrance will let drivers know whether spaces still are available.

The counter, which workers finished installing Friday, has sensors placed at each exit and entrance that send information about incoming or outgoing cars to the computer. The computer then determines if there are spaces available and relays the information to signs saying full or open above the entrances.

'[The garage] fills up and if students are looking for a parking space ... they could drive around for 10 minutes and there won't be a parking space available,' Sgt. William Goedeke said.

The Baylor Department of Public Safety hopes this will help students save 10 to 20 minutes if the parking garage is full, so they will have more time to get to class.

Goedeke counted the spaces on each floor and entered the total number into the computer so that it can calculate space available.

'I saw the camera, and it looked like there were cars parked all over the top floor,' Goedeke said. 'So I went out to check it and sure enough, the signs that said full were on.'

Goedeke said he has to periodically check to make sure the computer is counting correctly and reset it so that students are not given false readings.

Several students still expressed concern about the accuracy of the counter.

'I hope it will work, but you never know with things like this,' Brittany Oates, a Longview junior, said. 'You don't know how accurate it will be.'

Some students said they doubt it will save them that much time and believe students will attempt to look for spaces anyway.

'It could save time because they [students] won't have to drive around, but I think they might still think they can find a space,' Jonathan Lair, a Canyon junior, said.

'If there was a way they could put something on the street saying there was no available parking they could still have time to look elsewhere.'

Many students have little hope for the counter because there are already too few spaces.

'If it said 'full,' I'd probably go in anyway because there aren't any parking spaces, so it's pretty much my only shot,' Jessica Kelly, an Arlington senior, said.

Some students are more optimistic that the counter will help out with parking.

'I think it will be efficient,' William Shiu, a Spring junior, said. 'It's a solution, not the solution, but a solution.'