UBC evaluates accessible parking on campus with launch of new project

UBC has partnered with with Canada’s only national low-power network, eleven-X, to collect data on the usage of accessible parking spaces on UBC’s Vancouver campus. If found that the demand for handicapped parking spaces is higher than the amount that are currently provided, this project will lead to enhanced handicapped parking spaces across UBC.

Eleven-X is a Canadian company that uses long range, low-power wireless technology to interact and extract data from things that could not previously be connected to. The project will cost UBC $9,500 plus taxes and is expected to last approximately six weeks.

Parking sensors will be embedded in the pavement in UBC to provide real-time data on the presence or absence of motor vehicles in spots designated for disabled persons. In doing so it will provide concrete data on the usage frequency of these parking spaces.

At present, UBC infrastructure is designed to provide accessible parking within 100 metres of most buildings. One of the main goals of this project is to ensure that there are the right quantity of accessible parking spaces provided in the right places.

“We never exceed demand across campus — you might have to walk a bit further, but there’s always a place to park,” said Brian Jones, director of parking and access at UBC, in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey. “However, where we do have some challenges is with proximate vehicle access, which is of course really important for anyone with a disability, the elderly, those with temporary injuries, etc.”

The new project would thus focus on ensuring that UBC has sufficient parking spaces to allow quick and easy access for those who need it.

“In my mind, access always trumps convenience,” said Jones. “So, if we find that additional accessible stalls are required we’ll add more to meet the demand.”

UBC has a slightly contentious relationship with ensuring accessibility on campus. A recent Ubyssey investigation of campus accessibility found that there remain many academic and physical barriers to accessibility that have yet to be addressed. The implementation of this project will allow UBC access to tangible data to determine how parking accessibility fits into this dynamic. According to the article, “students say that there are still many challenges they face, usually due to a university that was not designed with them in mind.”

Given the smoothness of this partnership, the use of this new technology speaks to potential future development in other dimensions of UBC life as well.

“We look forward to further cooperation with UBC, introducing other ‘Smart’ applications for their Smart Campus initiative,” said Dan Mathers, President & CEO of eleven-X in an email statement to The Ubyssey.