Five years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel turned the page from a $2 million bribery scandal plaguing Chicago’s red-light camera program in a way he claimed would save taxpayers millions.
The city signed a five-year contract that called for Xerox State & Local Solutions, Inc. to be paid $1,819 per month to manage and maintain each of the city’s 384 red-light cameras.
That was a dramatic drop from the $4,300 monthly fee paid to Redflex Traffic Solutions, the Arizona company forced out by the bribery scandal. The more favorable terms were made possible by a switch from Redflex “loop detectors mounted in the street” to the less costly radar technology used by Xerox.
Now, the company spun off by Xerox and now known as Conduent State & Local Solutions has been awarded yet another five-year contract — this time for $6.1 million — to upgrade data analytics and provide “mobile device software solutions” used to issue parking tickets and other violations.
John Borovicka, who managed Emanuel’s congressional campaign and served as his congressional chief of staff, is listed as a paid lobbyist for the company, as he was for its red-light camera contract.
The number of parking tickets issued in Chicago has been dropping for years — to 2.25 million in 2016 and then 2.14 million last year — while booting has gone in the opposite direction.
The software upgrades are tailor-made to reverse those trends, in part by measuring “in near real-time” the accuracy and productivity of ticket-writing parking enforcement aides.
“Contractor will provide the city with continual development, improvement and analytic support with the objective of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s parking enforcement program,” the contract states.
“Should the city desire, the parties can discuss adapting the citation software to other types of plate-based violation issuance [and] expanding use of the citation software to non-plate-based violation types. For example, CPD administrative notice of violation would require additional development by the contractor and would be quoted separately.”
Data bases to be used include license plates, scofflaw registrations, Amber Alerts, stolen vehicles, city sticker and residential permit parking holders.
Within 90-days, citation software must facilitate the “provision of email alerts to the city’s designated parties concerning stolen plates and scofflaws.”
The software must allow motorists to “pay by cell” and permit the issuing officer to “capture color images to support violations” and “meter, sign and curb-maintenance requests as well as other non-violation data to be shared” with the appropriate city department
The agreement also requires the contractor to “host and maintain a public web page from its data center for citizens to view photographic evidence of their violations.” The website would be “accessible to the public via a link from the city’s designated web page.”
“Citizens will be able to view pictures associated with their violation by entering a violation number and license plate. … The web page will provide hyper-links back to the city’s website for payment,” the contract states.
“As part of the web page, the contractor will [also] convert unpaid citations issued prior to the go-live date, supported with photographic evidence. The city represents that there are fewer than one million citations and three or fewer images-per-citations.”
The software upgrade will help the city pinpoint “opportunity/gaps in current enforcement, based on ticket type and area parking restrictions” with a particular focus on “gaps caused by duty status changes, poor performance” and other factors.
Data analytics will identify “weight-scoring opportunities by area, time and day, including citation probabilities by block.” It will help the city establish “clear and efficient routes for issuing officers” and “more efficiently and effectively deploy staff to where parking enforcement should take place,” the contract states.
The agreement also calls for the company to “make recommendations concerning the return on investment of various citation types, provide scheduling and route recommendations for personnel applying boots to vehicles and create reporting dashboards for identifying when issuing officers are outside of an assigned zone.”
Last year, some parking enforcement aides were reassigned to work weekends with employees from the private contractor previously working solo on weekend enforcement.
The teams were sent to bustling entertainment districts like downtown, River North and Wicker Park where bars, restaurants, nightclubs and stores serve as magnets for illegal parking.
Through the first nine months of last year, the weekend crackdown had generated more than 37,400 tickets and $2.6 million in revenue. That’s nearly twice as much as anticipated.
As a result, aldermen were told during City Council budget hearings that the crackdown would be expanded citywide to generate an additional $4 million, bolstered by the anticipated software upgrades and the purchase of new hand-held computers to replace devices now 10 years old.