Texas Tech University Reduces Parking Violations with the Toughbook U1

We had the pleasure of visiting Lubbock, TX to see how the Red Raiders are using the Toughbook U1 rugged handheld computer to help enforce parking across their large campus; especially on football Saturdays. Here’s what we found.

With a new football season around the corner, the Parking Services Department for Texas Tech University (TTU) faced a serious problem. During the previous season, parking lots surrounding the 52,000-seat Jones AT&T Stadium had been regularly accessed by cars without proper passes, because duplicates were difficult to identify. Complaints from alumni unable to park even with legitimate passes were getting louder.

Much of TTU’s issues could be traced to the limitations of its enforcement officers’ handheld computers. They were difficult to operate, couldn’t be used in the rain, and were easily damaged when dropped. Battery life was short, requiring someone to constantly seek out and replace dead units throughout game days. Without wireless connectivity, there was also no way to track usage in real time.

As the second-largest contiguous university campus in the United States, TTU has 30,000 students and covers more than 1,800 acres. More than a quarter of Parking Services’ $4 million annual revenue is derived from citations, and the university needed reliable technology and rapid information-sharing to ensure it could document each infraction – especially during home football games.

Building a Solution with Versatile Ultra-Mobile PCs
After extensive testing, TTU decided to equip enforcers with the Panasonic Toughbook® U1, an extremely rugged ultra-portable computer with a 5.6” sunlight-viewable screen. With a six-foot drop rating and IP65-certified protection from dust and moisture, the U1 could be counted on to work in any condition.

“We were very impressed with the U1’s rugged capabilities, and the ability to run a full Windows Vista operating system enabled us to quickly develop a custom application for enforcers,” said Stephen Lambert, Manager of Information Systems for TTU Parking Services. “We utilized the U1’s built-in barcode scanner and touchscreen to create an easy-to-use program ensuring every car was accounted for and verified.”

Using the U1’s embedded mobile broadband capabilities and AT&T’s wireless network, TTU set its devices to automatically synch with their servers every five minutes. From a central control room, they were then able to monitor exactly how full each parking lot was as well as  battery life and network status for each U1 being used.

“We had a much more positive response from football fans parking on campus this season, thanks in no small part to the solution we rolled out with the Toughbook U1s,” said Eric Crouch, Managing Director of TTU Parking Services. “We have since deployed U1s to parking enforcers patrolling campus on a year-round basis, and are seeing valuable returns through more efficient and effective processes.”

View the TTU Parking Services U1 case study:

Additional mobile enforcement case studies for the Public Sector can be found here.