Iowa City exploring license plate recognition technology - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City exploring license plate recognition technology

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Growing up in Iowa City and now attending the University of Iowa, Chelsea Bilskemper has received her fair share of parking tickets.

"They'll get you a ticket, even if you're a minute over, every time," she said.

Now new technology being considered may help to further that reputation.

Iowa City parking officials are exploring License Plate Recognition technology,  meaning violators will be even less likely to go undetected.

The LPR system would help crews patrol thousands of Iowa City spaces much more efficiently.

"We see it as a huge benefit,  for the different areas that we currently manually enforce," said Mark Rummel, associate director of transportation services in Iowa City.

With the new system, a camera will be mounted inside a city vehicle that can read license plates.

"Areas where we would be out manually chalking a tire, walking down the street, this would require just driving down the street," Rummel said. 

The scanned license plate numbers will then be compared to a database, allowing city officials to do everything from enforce permitted areas and time zone parking, to identify people with unpaid parking tickets.

"A big part of that is to increase the turnover to allow parking downtown for visitors," Rummel said. 

As the technology becomes more affordable, some are concerned about the infringement on civil liberties.

Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is calling for better regulation as automated license plate readers make their way into the state.

"It's the accumulation of data and then the syncing of that data with other databases that we are seeing around the country as a very serious threat to the privacy of innocent Americans," Stone said.

Iowa City officials currently are in the bid process with vendors. 

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