Are license plate scanners our new safety agents?

January 10, 2022 | Raj Srivastav

A neighborhood free of burglary and unscrupulous activities is only a natural expectation. But all it takes is a series of chilling criminal episodes to shatter the comfort of security where we’ve been residing serenely.

Paradise Hills in Golden, Colorado is an example of how even a seemingly peaceful place can be infiltrated by gun-totters overnight. Sleep became an infrequent visitor in the lives of the residents there, as the unsettling fear of the unknown gripped their psyche.

The sudden, ghastly events at Paradise Hills compelled its homeowners’ association to install strong surveillance devices to scan the tag on every vehicle around the vicinity.

As expected, the decision to monitor and record vehicle movements were met with resistance. The locals became paranoid, calling the move absurd and even intrusive.

Yet, it can’t be denied that easy-to-operate surveillance devices have become a growing imperative in the United States of late. The Washington Post, in a recent article, has highlighted that Flock Safety, one of the industry leaders in digicam systems, has installed security devices across 40 states to capture data from over a billion vehicles every month.

These systems called License Plate Scanners track every car’s movements and drivers’ routine. In a way, the manufacturers of such high-end technology have become purveyors of ‘safety as a service’ or should we say ‘public safety as a service’.

As a concept, safety is something we take for granted. We seldom ever ask ourselves: why safety is important in our life. Perhaps, our faith in technology as a shield lulls us into a dangerous sense of complacency.

Why safety as a service is important

Advancement brings its own set of challenges. Through cutting-edge technology, we are constantly upgrading the quality of our lives. But while the digital revolution is a boon, it has also armed, well-networked criminals that execute their nefarious designs without leaving tangible evidence.

We execute bank transactions through smartphones. Malware slips into the same handset unnoticed. But technology adapts, evolves, equips us to cope with sinister designs, and makes us more vigilant.

Technology, in fact, hovers like an invisible guardian around us. Here, let’s reflect on what happens on the roads.

Exponential growth in the automobile sector and the general vehicle purchasing power of millennials have resulted in congested roads. Consequently, the glut of vehicles is making us susceptible to accidents. Does technology make a difference here too? Very much so. Devices on weather information and danger zones are aimed at alerting the one at the wheel.

So, what intrigues us so much about the license plate recognition software?

How do license plate readers work

Typically, License Plate Recognition (LPR) is a dynamic software that can read and detect a vehicle’s registration code. Essentially, a traffic-monitoring software, it starts by recording videos of a car’s license plate.

LPRs use character recognition to identify details such as what the plate is and which state it belongs to, essentially addressing our security concerns.

The LPR captures the license plate image, which is then evaluated by video-analytics software and compared to a database of stored or registered license plate numbers.

When the database finds a match, it sends instant email or cell phone alerts.

Vigilant Solutions is one such reputed name in the license plate industry, as it specializes in easily-shared data, thereby improving investigative efficiency and patrol productivity.

Much like OCR

In essence, license plate recognition is a kind of OCR. Generally, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithms allow computers to recognize and analyze handwritten or printed documents and later convert them into an editable text format. These texts can be used for different tasks like generating reports or searching patterns.

In license plate scanning, OCR technology is used to establish common aspects of two images like colors, text rows, and fonts. It’s used to identify visible license plates, thus aiding the investigation.

What makes LPR so robust?

    · Programmed for real-time alerts

    · Reads license plates on both moving and still vehicles

    · Recordings can be used for forensic investigation

    · Can cope with a variety of number-plate styles

    · Vehicles may be tracked across different locations

    · It’s proven to be 98% accurate

What are Automatic License Plate Readers then?

The term Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) invariably finds mention with license plate scanners. ALPRs are essentially digicam systems that function through computers. They’re usually mounted on avenue poles, streetlights, toll-road overpasses, and connected to police squad motors.

ALPR technology routinely captures all license plate numbers that come into view, alongside the place, date, and time. The data is uploaded to a server that is used by police to ascertain the movement of a certain vehicle at the time of the crime and establish if it has any link to suspicious activities.

Also, ALPRs are equipped to collect information on tons of plates every minute. Furthermore, ALPR systems upload the data instantly to police servers.

A broad field…

That said, technology is so vast and integral to our lives that it can’t be limited to security alone.

License plates do not always need to be a spy or an automated detective. Its scope is immense.

For instance, traffic monitoring is as cumbersome as traffic management. Tracking cars and number plates using ML models or Machine Learning algorithms can be an arduous and complex process. An automatic system like Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) executes this task more efficiently.

ANPR can be used in toll payment processes and parking management, reducing the financial loss on account of having outmoded systems.

A sector to explore…

The concept of building solutions for safety as a service is bound to appeal to entrepreneurs, given that neighborhoods worldwide believe their building-services technology needs an immediate upgrade.

And building-services technology isn’t just limited to security forces. It includes implementing systems for bacteria control and humidity manipulation too. Building-services technology determines the design of a building, encompassing energy sources, drainage systems, and components of sustainability.

Do you believe in the industry potential of computer-readable images of license plates? If you think ‘safety is good for business’, here’s why you must contact us. A dynamic website and apps are what you need first. We’ve got the experience and expertise to help you make a mark in this sector. A call at +1.408.621.8481 or an email to team@sdi.la is your starting point.

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