The most basic technology in ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) cameras is digital photography, plain and simple. They take a high-resolution picture of the vehicle they see. What they do with that image is where we see the differences from other digital cameras. It’s also what separates the features of the various camera models and options.
The next function common to all ALPR cameras is finding the license plate in that digital image. They produce a separate image of the license plate and use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to record the plate number and other information on the plate.
Then it gets more complicated; different models with various optional features massage that data in different ways.
Adaptive Recognition, a long-time leader in ALPR technology, produces four basic camera models to read license plates in various situations. Here are brief descriptions of the fundamental purposes of each of those models:
1. Einar – Designed for parking lot monitoring and access control of usually slow-moving vehicles.
2. Vidar – Designed to read license plates on fast-moving vehicles. It’s usually fixed on a gantry or pole for toll collection applications.
3. MicroCAM – Designed to be mounted in or on a vehicle. These cameras are nearly always mobile.
4. S1 – Designed for speed control and traffic enforcement. It could be used as a fixed or portable camera.
Connecting any of these ALPR cameras with various software and databases can produce a wide variety of results. We’ll elaborate on some of those results in this article.
Here are some ALPR applications you may be considering. You can find more information here on any of the cameras discussed and how they can be customized.
Monitoring Vehicles Passing a Security Checkpoint and Controlling Access
The Einar ALPR camera is best suited to this job. The data it generates can be compared with databases to verify:
- Employee status
- Active membership
- Clean criminal record
- Appointment status, or
- You name it – if it’s in a database you have access to, you can verify it.
ALPR cameras can even be linked to other scanning devices. Here’s an example of the camera connected with an under-vehicle scanner that looks for hidden firearms, explosives, prohibited material, etc. in vehicles entering high-security UK and EU government facilities.
Want to Monitor a Parking Lot Entrance or Exit?
The Einar camera is well-suited for this task as well. You can connect it with a database that:
- Tells you if they have a reservation.
- Tells you if they’ve paid when they exit.
- Tells you if the car is stolen or involved in any crime.
- Bills them or charges their account if they’ve registered an account.
Want to Collect Tolls on a Highway or Where Vehicles Enter a Bridge or Tunnel?
Adaptive Recognition’s Vidar ALPR camera is the tool for you. These cameras can read license plates at highway speeds. The ALPR data from this camera can be linked to a vehicle registration database so the owner of each vehicle can be invoiced or if they have opted for automatic payment, their bank account or credit card can be charged.
In many jurisdictions license plates or other vehicle markings contain information on hazardous materials. If your facility has limitations on what can be carried (such as explosives in a tunnel) your ALPR application can be customized to look for this information.
Want to Enable Police Cars to Search for Stolen Cars or Other Crime-Involved Vehicles?
For this, you’ll want the MicroCAM mobile camera. It can be mounted on or in a patrol car to recognize license plates and the data associated with them. The ability to know this information instantly without the need to make a radio call to a station or office allows quick action as required. If it’s necessary to stop someone, the officer can be advised if that person has a history of violence.
The ALPR function can either be built into the camera or linked externally.
The ability to identify license plates while both vehicles are moving is unique to this camera.
S1 speed enforcement ALPR cameras can be set up to transmit data to police cars in the area, so speeders can be stopped and ticketed. They can detect vehicle speeds from up to 1 km (0.6 mile) away.
These cameras can also be placed to detect red-light violators.
Excessive speed and ignoring red lights are two of the most dangerous accident causes. ALPR technology has the potential to help authorities reduce these occurrences and make great safety improvements.
How to Use Your ALPR Camera
Three types of camera placement give you flexibility in defining its mission.
When the ALPR camera is used in an ongoing stable application, the camera is usually mounted on a gantry or pole where it can continuously monitor traffic. It normally wouldn’t be moved except for maintenance – a rare occurrence.
Toll collection on a major highway is an example of an application for a permanently mounted camera.
Here, the camera would be on a quick disconnect mounting or similar structure like a tripod. It can easily be moved from one location to another, depending on traffic density and other variable factors.
When a camera is mounted in or on a vehicle, it is situated so it can be easily moved from one vehicle to another. It’s used mostly when the vehicle is moving or temporarily parked.
From these examples, you can see that Adaptive Recognition’s ALPR cameras can be used in a wide variety of ways.
What unique traffic monitoring application will meet your needs? To learn more about the ways you can use ALPR technology, go here. Every page has a contact button on it, so you can discuss your project with an expert.