URI implements new parking gate system, campus adjusts

On Aug. 29, 2023, the University of Rhode Island Parking Services sent out an email to faculty and staff announcing impending improvements to parking gate access technology, which went into effect at the start of the new year.

On Jan. 8, Parking Services released an email announcing that JPass was now available for faculty and staff who requested access to their gates – an app that downloads onto any smartphone, allowing users to enter the gates through bluetooth technology.

Upon its release, lines of faculty and staff began to form outside of these gates, posing some inconveniences from this new software. Additional rumors started to spread that the app was not accessible to Android users as well.

The original August email read: “As always when launching a new system, there may be issues that need to be addressed. Rest assured we are working diligently to address all issues in a timely fashion.”

Parking and Transportation offered call services, allowing individuals with gate troubles to press a button and connect to somebody on the other line that could lift the gate for them, only after going through a verification process to prove that they have access to the lot. Additionally, officers were outside assisting any individuals with trouble and office hours were held by the Department of Public Safety to answer questions remotely.

“Anyone that has a right to be in that lot just has to come into our office and talk to us, and we will help them in any way we can,” said Cody Ochs, the coordinator of Transportation and Parking.

For more than 20 years, URI’s faculty and staff have relied on gates that were lifted with a swipe of an ID card. As these started to get stuck in the air, students were able to park in the lots and complaints began to accumulate about them always being full, limiting accessibility for faculty and staff.

“The last system was so outdated we couldn’t do changes,” Ochs said.

This prevented Public Safety from finding the parts necessary to fix any broken gates, which prompted the University to update the software to a modern version that was available from the same company that manufactured the previous gates.

“It would break down very frequently and we’re not seeing any issues right now,” said URI Police Chief Michael Jagoda.

The new software for the gates provides a higher level of security, according to Jagoda. Signing up for gate access only requires a URI email, and protects against fraud and security breaches.

Transportation and Parking tested the software on the gate next to Ranger Hall for well over six months, according to Ochs, and found that it was ready to implement throughout campus after being in the works since October 2022.

“This software that we’re using – this is a world-wide app,” Jagoda said. “We’re just using a component of this app to really modernize our security gate system.”

As the semester continues and the software is utilized fully, problems with the system have begun to smooth themselves out.

“We were quite busy in the first week [with calls] because I don’t think that anybody thought it was going to happen,” Ochs said. “Ultimately today I think we had one call.”

Jagoda expressed that the new software not only heightens security on campus, keeping unauthorized vehicles outside of the lots, but it also saves the University from spending extra money on maintaining the old system.

Any further questions and concerns can be directed to Transportation and Parking, whether over the phone at (401) 874-928, or in person Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m..