The Power of License Plate Recognition (LPR) Systems

Business owners will often go to great lengths in an effort to increase the security and integrity of a property or facility. These lengths include installing some of the most intensive video surveillance systems on the market. But one such technology that is often overlooked is the LPR - or license plate recognition system. There are a few theories behind why LPR systems haven't caught on as widely as perhaps one would expect, but these theories are nothing more than misconceptions that are preventing facility managers and business owners from benefiting from perhaps one of the most elaborate and effective security systems on the market.

So, how does the LPR system work?

A license plate recognition system is a two-part system that combines the use of a specialized plate-reading camera with an advanced software that identifies and matches license plates. These systems can be a part of fixed and mobile installations (mobile installations will be affixed to a vehicle), making the LPR a highly versatile security solution for most settings and environments.

The camera captures the images of the vehicle and the license plate, and uses OCR (optical character recognition) to identity and determine the characters that make up a license plate tag. Then, the accompanying software will compare this plate reading to a list of "vehicles of interest." This list is often referred to as the hotlist, and clients can determine the parameters of their hotlist.

For example, a hotlist could include welcomed vehicles, such as plates of employees, VIPs, or expected guests. Or, the hotlist could include vehicles you don't want, such as ex-employees, or any stolen or wanted vehicles. The software will notify operators of a match (or not a match, in the case of a hotlist designed for permitted vehicles).

Why License Plate Recognition Software is Underused

One of the reasons people are under-using this amazing technology is because the misconception that LPR is complicated. Yes, the software itself is complicated, in that it's vastly different from a video surveillance system, because of specialized cameras and hotlist-based software. Cameras need to be placed accurately, in the right angle, to ensure optimal field of view to capture license plate characters, and these cameras need to be connected to a network.

But the installation of an LPR software is not complicated, and while testing needs to be done, and software needs to be installed, the time it takes to get the system up and running is not as intensive as one would imagine. Using a trusted surveillance and video monitoring expert, such as Onsite Guardian, can help you avoid unexpected delays, struggles, and costs during installation. Onsite will not only help to install the system accurately, but will also offer training and support.

The other misconception behind license plate recognition systems is that the software itself is unreliable, and produces false negatives. But advanced LPR systems - such as the ones offered through Onsite Guardian - have an accuracy record of 99%. This factors in external obstacles such as detrimental weather (rainstorms, for example).

How can an LPR system claim such amazing statistics for accuracy?

It all comes down to the quality of the camera. Standard video cameras are typically not designed to handle motion blur and headlight glare, which are typical factors when trying to capture a license plate number. But an LPR camera has been designed to capture crisp images - even if those images are racing at high speeds or are captured at odd angles.

More than just security

At Onsite Guardian, our main mission is the security of our clients. However, license plate recognition has proven to be an asset to businesses and facilities beyond its expected purpose of security. Because of the ability of users to design their own "hotlist," casinos have used LPR to better accommodate VIPs, while avoid lawsuits from self-registered compulsive gamblers. Retailers have used LPR to monitor visitor statistics to market space to prospective brands. Freight companies use LPR to keep track of incoming and outgoing trucks to disprove claims of late or missing goods.

With support during installation and execution, and the ability to integrate your LPR into your existing video surveillance system, it seems rather futile to resist the power of license plate recognition technology. Providing more than just security, LPR is the next wave in protecting your assets, and is far easier to integrate than you think.