Automatic License Plate Recognition and Its Many Uses


Automatic license plate recognition offers many benefits. This technology functions by capturing an image of a license plate as it moves through a camera’s field of view.

When this image has been captured, the system interprets the alphanumeric characters and compares them to a database with active plates.

The database used for this purpose varies by the authority using the system. For example, law enforcement may use a database containing all license plates, while a parking garage will use a database containing only those plates of paid users.

If the ALPR system does not recognize the plate, the operator then issues a violation notice. Where is this technology commonly used?

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies use ALPR as an extra set of eyes. When the system detects a plate of concern, officers can respond rapidly.

This helps to keep the public safe and provides law enforcement with more information about the individual they may be dealing with. They can gather information about the person to whom the car is registered.

Automatic License Plate RecognitionIn addition, this technology becomes of help when officers are dealing with an AMBER alert or similar situation. ALPR systems can help officers locate the missing individual.

This system gathers information in an organized manner and constantly updates databases. These databases can then be analyzed to help the officers do their jobs.

With the help of this technology, officers locate stolen vehicles using less manpower. They spend less time on vehicle and traffic enforcement, so they have more time to work on other cases. This helps to reduce crime in the area, as criminals know they are more likely to be caught.

They also use this technology when trying to locate a suspect. The officers can see whether a car was in a particular area when a crime was committed or may use this technology to show the suspect was in a different area.

Parking Garages

Using automatic license plate readers in a parking garage eliminates the need for tickets. In fact, with this technology, the parking garage may eliminate the gate while providing unmanned coverage of a garage around the clock. When combined with CCTV cameras, the system makes the garage more secure.

Many people overlook the fact that using an ALPR system eliminates a bottleneck at the garage entrance and exit. People will no longer idle their cars as they wait to be helped by an attendant. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and noise levels in these facilities.

Furthermore, the use of ALPR simplifies a garage’s billing system. Lost and switched tickets are no longer a concern, as other data can be cross-referenced to know how much a patron owes.

If a problem arises, the system allows for exception handling. However, this is becoming less of an issue thanks to advances in technology. Parking garage owners find they spend less time handling inconsistencies and more time meeting the needs of customers.

Automatic license plate recognition increases overall performance. It also provides complete coverage of the parking garage, which owners and users appreciate.

Universities and Schools

Schools and universities have hundreds, if not thousands, of people on campus every day. In any highly populated area such as this, criminal threats remain a concern. Often, these crimes involve vehicles on campus.

ALPR increases campus security while making it easy for law enforcement to find those responsible for any crimes.

Threats extend beyond property crimes today. Campuses must remain alert for illegal drug activities, kidnapping, human trafficking, and more. When a suspect vehicle is seen on campus, officers can quickly intercept this vehicle to prevent crime before it occurs.

People often worry that this technology will capture students who are permitted on campus simply because they are driving another car. Filters can be designed to help minimize the risk of this happening.

For example, the school may establish filters to detect unusual movement patterns or vehicles that enter and exit the campus rapidly or repeatedly. With this information, they can identify suspicious behavior and begin watching those vehicles closely.

Campus police determine which behavior should be watched and which behavior is considered normal activity. Law enforcement can assist with this, as officers recognize the use of ALPR on campus makes their job easier.

They have an extra set of eyes on the local community, which is of benefit to them.

Restricted Facilities

Certain facilities need to restrict access to their premises for safety reasons. For instance, labs that deal with dangerous substances need to ensure only those with the proper credentials can access the substances. ALPR makes it easier for these facilities to know who is entering and exiting the premises at all times.

Although the facility may use the same technology found in parking garages, it may use the system to monitor visitor access as well. When a visitor will be coming to the facility, their vehicle can be added to the permitted list prior to their arrival.

When the visitor arrives, the system may provide them with a personalized welcome as they are allowed entrance. When used with an access control system, ALPR eliminates the need for barcodes and RFID chips.

In addition, the facility may use the system to identify suspicious behavior. For instance, if unauthorized vehicles are seen repeatedly outside the gates, security personnel may begin watching the gate to attempt to detect a pattern.

They can then work with law enforcement to determine who these vehicles belong to and why they are lingering in the vicinity of the restricted facility.

Automatic license plate recognition has many uses beyond those mentioned above. Every business owner should consider investing in this technology. Retail stores, for example, can determine busy times with the help of ALPR and determine which shoppers make repeat visits.

This is only one of many ways an organization will benefit from investing in a system of this type. Talk with an ALPR provider to learn more about other uses for this technology, as people are often amazed at how far the industry has come and how an ALPR system will be of benefit to them. They can only gather this information if they ask.


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