Which companies use Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) software and why?

Everyone knows that your car’s license plate is directly linked to a lot of information, including your driving history. But beyond letting the cops figure out if you have parking tickets in circulation (or who they’re about to give another one to), what is that data for? Ultimately, many – and automatic license plate recognition hardware and associated software are proof positive.

But what is ALPR, what is it for and why should you care about it first? The answers to these questions require you to keep a few key things in mind.

What is Automatic License Plate Recognition Software?

At their core, automated license plate readers and associated software are largely what they sound like – these systems include computer-controlled high-speed camera systems which can be mounted in a variety of locations to capture license plate information.

The software itself works through both artificial intelligence (AI) and a subset of this technology called optical character recognition (OCR). When a car passes in front of the LPR camera in question, the image is scanned and converted into a format readable automatically by the software itself. The program can “tell the difference” between a license plate and other types of text, presenting this information to end users.

Who uses ALPR and why?

The most obvious application of LPR technology is in law enforcement. If you mount these cameras on a utility pole, lamppost, building, or even in a patrol car, the police can automatically collect a huge amount of information. They don’t just know a car’s license plate – they know precisely where it was and when. It is a system that is estimated at 93% police departments in cities with more than one million inhabitants are already using it.

They can also compare this information with a database of previously collected plates to determine if a particular car was present when a crime was committed, where a car was located, so they can retrieve it if it was stolen and more. .

While the ALPR may make it seem like “Big Brother” is watching in this context, it’s important to note that it has a number of other (less scary) implications as well.

Companies that operate out of office buildings or even large industrial environments can use ALPR for security-related purposes, such as access control. If you recently fired an employee who absolutely must not return to your home, you can add their license plate to a blacklist. Then, with LPR cameras focused on the parking lot, you can ensure that security teams are immediately notified if they decide to return.

Another example of how this type of technology can be used comes in the form of parking garages. No one likes having to spend time dealing with parking attendants or even remembering where they put their parking ticket. With ALPR, they wouldn’t have to – their license plate could be scanned instantly when they arrived at the garage and their payment could be made quickly and easily, either at a machine or via a mobile app. The system automatically knows who has paid and who hasn’t, making the experience easier for everyone involved.

One area of ​​our daily lives that can be greatly improved through the use of ALPR is the experience offered by just about every drive-thru or curbside pickup line in fast food restaurants around the world. . Yes, it’s handy not having to get out of your car…but not at the expense of always getting the order wrong or having to repeat yourself when you get up at the window anyway.

Fortunately, ALPR hardware and software relieves all of this. Imagine a situation where you stop at the drive-thru of a coffee shop and see two lanes. You place your order, but a car in the next lane manages to pass you as the two merge into one. A recipe for disaster, right? Wrong – because your order matched your license plate thanks to ALPR. A dozen cars could arrive in front of you, and you would still receive the same order each time.

Or, imagine a situation where you need to have your car repaired and you call the dealer ahead of time to let them know what the problem is and why you are coming. Then, when you pull into the service lane when you arrive, someone automatically knows who you are, why you’re there, and what they’re supposed to do.

Imagine no more, because that is exactly what is possible with automatic license plate recognition software and LPR technology. These are just a few of the many examples of what these systems can do when deployed correctly.

At the end

Yes, there are admittedly some privacy issues associated with automatic license plate readers and all related software, including privacy. These concerns are valid, but they’re ultimately no different from worrying about the volume of information people post on social media or the personal data that might be gleaned if your smartphone falls into the wrong hands. Likewise, the information collected through ALPR is already publicly available and is not tied to any personal driver information, so it is actually more secure than these examples.

Overall, it’s clear that ALPR already has a lot to offer in a variety of different contexts and these benefits will only become more prevalent as the underlying technology continues to advance.