Fresno wants to watch you park in the park – GVwire


Fresno officials plan to implement new visitor parking technology in two of the city’s largest public parks.

Under the plan, license plate readers could soon replace the live attendants at the tills in both Woodward Park and Roeding Park.

Councilor Miguel Arias says removing human interaction would remove congestion at the entrances to regional parks and allow more access points.

“It will reduce the pollution from all those cars that are idling in and it will improve the customer experience,” said Arias.

Park visitors want better processes, says City

Park visitors asked for an easier way to enter the parks, said urban planning director Jennifer Clark.

“Among other things, our customers have identified bottlenecks and dissatisfaction with waiting times and unclear operating times. And from an operational perspective, it reduces our labor costs for a third party operating the … entrance, ”said Clark.

Fresno City Council approved a license plate reader contract with Vigilant Solutions for $ 217,341 in September 2020 as part of a major parking technology contract.

At the city council meeting on Thursday, a change to the contract for the use of reading devices in the regional parks will be discussed.

This is how the labeling system works

Instead of waiting in line to pay a booth attendant, drivers entered the park and paid the $ 5 per car entry fee at a kiosk or via a cell phone app. Entering the vehicle registration number or a code for an annual parking permit is required. There is no entrance fee for pedestrians or cyclists.

Kiosks would be distributed across the parks to “make it more efficient for the customer,” said Clark.

The vehicle registration reader would record the license plate of every car entering the park. It would be synchronized with the license plate information provided when paying the entry fee.

If the entry fee is not paid within a set grace period – a city official estimated a time of 30 minutes to allow things like pickups / drop offs – a park official would be notified.

Quotes would then be physically delivered to cars that violate the law.

Privacy concerns raised

The increasing reliance on license plate reading technology has raised privacy concerns among groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You want to know how long the license plate information will be kept and whether this information will be shared.

“There are laws on the books in California that say (license plate information) should not be shared across state lines or to any non-law enforcement agency. And as long as this exchange takes place, we will have a problem with it, ”said Beryl Lipton, an EFF research scientist.

Clark said the city’s provider, Vigilant Solutions, will use methods to back up the database.

“The license plate readers are only intended for reading the license plate. No personal, identifiable information about the customer is collected or stored. The system has no access to the registered person’s information. It’s literally a license plate reader, ”said Clark.

Clark said it was not law enforcement’s intention to have access to the license plate reader’s information.

“That is not part of this particular program. So it’s specifically designed to track parking lots, ”said Clark.

The database is cleared daily, Clark said.

Previous experience with the Fresno Police Department

The city has already been warned not to protect the data stored on its license plates.

In 2020, the California state auditor criticized the Fresno police for not doing enough to protect the database’s privacy.

Then-boss Andrew Hall said he would implement the auditor’s suggestions to make the database more secure. The department was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Lipton wants the city to set absolute limits on the use of license plate information. This includes the disclosure of information to law enforcement agencies and the disclosure of customer information by the provider to others.

“I remain skeptical that it could not ultimately find its way into a database that was not what it was originally intended. Because we’ve seen this in police departments across the country and license plate readers held by law enforcement as well as other entities, “Lipton said.

Councilors say security is of the essence

Council members are also interested in ensuring that license plate information is kept safe and private.

“My only concern is who has access to information, what security protocols the information applies, and what confidentiality standards we will and will follow,” said Arias.

Councilor Tyler Maxwell likes the new technology and compares it to the Fastrak program used in the Bay Area to collect bridge and road tolls. However, he wants information to be kept safe.

“Privacy and security will be a top issue for me and something I will look at closely when this technology is implemented. And for any indication that this information is being misused, I would personally be prepared to table a resolution to get rid of this technology if it turns out to be a significant invasion of people’s privacy, ”said Maxwell.


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