Hands-free Parking Access Expanding on Campus

Second phase of project expected to be completed next month

Duke's new parking permit system includes this reader, which doesn't require permit holders to swipe a permit. Instead, it uses radio-frequency identification to offer a hands-free experience. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Duke's Parking and Transportation Services has begun the second phase in a campus-wide rollout of enhanced technology that will offer hands-free access to parking lots and garages.

So far, six lots have received upgrades, which began in February. The new parking system, which will be added to 39 total lots on campus by 2016, includes radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology for parking lot access. With this technology, a special RFID tag affixed to a vehicle will offer a hands-free mode of parking by raising a gate for a motorist without a Duke community member reaching out to swipe a permit. As a backup, physical permits and DukeCards will still allow Duke community members the ability to swipe into a lot.

The next lineup of areas that will receive the RFID system includes the Fuqua Gated Lot, Public Policy Lot, Bryan Research Lot and Hock Garage. Construction on the new systems has begun in these locations and is expected to be complete by mid-July, weather permitting.

Improvements are part of a larger plan by Parking and Transportation to upgrade services for better tracking of parking usage and behaviors, which will enable Duke to tailor its resources better.

"I greatly appreciate the technology during a downpour."

-- Victor Gordon, assistant director of administration at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

"We've seen that by having a parking management system in place, we have much improved information and control over usage of lots," said Melissa Harden, interim director of Parking and Transportation. "Ultimately, that means we can provide greater access to more people."

As the new system continues to roll out, permit holders for upgraded areas will receive notices from Parking and Transportation Services about what they need to do to get an RFID tag and park.

Harden said Duke community members using RFIDs should apply the sticker tag right below their rearview mirror and make sure to approach automated gates slowly. A green light on each entry gate will let drivers know when their tag has been read.

Victor Gordon, assistant director of administration at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, has enjoyed the new hands-free system since it was completed in the Campus Drive Gated Lot this spring. He noted it has great benefits during inclement weather and never makes him worry about losing his parking permit.

"I greatly appreciate the technology during a downpour," he said. "Plus it's nice to not worry about accidentally dropping your tag and having to move your car so you have enough room to open your door and pick it up."

Once phase two of the RFID rollout is complete next month, Parking and Transportation Services will start phase three at the beginning of August. Areas included in phase three will be Parking Garage III, Blue Zone Lots and the Card, Kilgo and Beta lots.