License plate recognition technology has highly developed leaps and bounds compared with when it was first launched 2 decades ago. LPR technology has seen a rise in operational efficiency, move from manual LPRs to automatic LPRs that can, as the name states, automatically awake law enforcement of a suspect vehicle.
When considering hardware, camera technology has become smaller; there’s integrated infrared illuminators, which means they can read the plates in night and day much better; and there’s a rise in processing power , meaning there’s further resolution to LPR cameras as well. “We can now have a wider picture , a bigger field of view and we can analyze more data because we have that processing power,” tells Robert Amante, product manager of Genetec’s AutoVu.
There are two various kinds of technologies for ALPR, says Genetec’s Amante — server-based ALPR and edge-based ALPR. Server-based ALPR shows that a camera is sending video back to a server and the server is performing all the analytics to determine whether it’s a license plate. The disadvantage , notes Amante , is that if the network falls off between the camera and your server , you won’t have anymore license plate reads.
The other disadvantage is that you require an expensive server. “Usually if you’re running on a server it’s going to be a very heavy solution ,” he says. Edge-based ALPR, alternatively, means your camera is performing all the analytics. If your network does go down, your camera can still continue reading the license plates and when the network comes back it can post all that data back to the central server to do all of your reporting on it.
“These machine-learning technologies are usually based with servers doing a lot of computations, but we take that, compact it and fit it onboard the camera itself, which makes the camera very , very powerful ,” says Amante.
There are benefits when it comes to a mobile phone solution where the camera is fixed on a patrol vehicle. “You don’t have the luxury of having the server in the car to do this machine learning, so you have no choice but to fit it on the ALPR device. When law enforcement officers have that, they get the benefits of the better read rates and the better capture rates,” says Amante.