/ Modified aug 9, 2019 12:55 p.m.

NAU to implement 'virtual parking' with cameras that read plates

License plates will be treated as permits and scanned by cameras mounted to university vehicles, officials said.

nau campus trees The Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, Arizona.

FLAGSTAFF — Northern Arizona University plans to use cameras that read license plates to monitor parking rather than stickers affixed to windshields, officials said.

The "virtual parking" system will treat license plates as permits, The Arizona Daily Sun reported Thursday.

License plates will be scanned by cameras mounted to university vehicles, officials said.

"Users no longer have to worry about losing their permit or forgetting to move it if they are using a different vehicle registered to their account," said Erin Stam, NAU transit department director.

The system is expected to reduce theft, counterfeit permits and environmental impact.

Virtual permits are available for purchase and immediately valid, while sticker permits will expire Aug. 14.

Virtual permit holders will be required to keep license plates clear of obstructions such as snow and park with plates facing an aisle, unless they also have a front-facing plate. The university will sell front-facing plates for $20, although the fee will be waived this year.

"We delayed implementing since Arizona only has single-sided license plates. While many universities with single-sided plates tell their users which way to park, we wanted to give our customers a choice," Stam wrote in an email.

The system is planned to initially be used in parking lots, while garages are expected to continue using sticker permits and temporary tickets. The installation of cameras connected to parking garage entrance and exit gates is expected to be completed by 2020.

Employee walkthroughs of parking lots are expected to continue as needed to account for out-of-state or specialty plates that are not detected by the camera system, officials said.

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