LPR Hits the Mark

July 19, 2012
License plate recognition technology, a type of video analytics, is finding deployment success in the transportation vertical market and for fast-moving vehicles

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

Dealers and integrators leery of deploying video analytics can start with an easy to implement element of video analytics called license plate recognition (LPR) technology. The technology can capture license plates of fast-moving cars, trucks and other vehicles up to 100 mph, with a great capture rate and reliability.

According to Joseph Cestra, director of Technical Services for World Wide Security Group, Garden City, N.Y., the company is using LPR technology in both the commercial and high-end residential markets. In the transportation vertical market, World Wide uses it for trucking and the movement of vehicles, picking up and dropping off supplies and integrating information with the billing system or third video monitoring.

“The applications are endless,” said Cestra. “Video analytics is being promoted as having a 99 percent capture rate and we have found it to match that success and performance. Video analytics is a proactive system that detects and deters, unlike a traditional system, which is reactive,” he said.

Exciting possibilities for the end user

SecureWatch 24 LLC (SW24), New York City, is seeing a rapid expansion in all forms of license plate recognition technology, according to Jay Stuck, vice president of Sales and chief marketing officer. “As the technology continues to improve, a number of vertical markets are realizing that not only can it be a security enhancement to facilities and a law enforcement tool, but also a revenue generation tool. “Facilities are looking at LPR to enhance their security efforts as part of an integrated security platform,” said Stuck. “An unauthorized vehicle can trigger a camera and access control record simultaneously, so a security director can receive a picture or video of the vehicle or license plate directly to his phone or computer—and possibly a head and shoulders shot of the employee assigned to that license plate. The possibilities are exciting for security directors,” Stuck said.

Cestra echoed the sentiment that the sky’s the limit for this type of video analytics and it packages nicely with other technologies in an integrated solution. “In the commercial market, we have clients who are using everything from license plate recognition to sensor technology to biometrics, all tied into the security system and other databases,” he said. “In one case a raw materials supplier has container trucks coming and going. As a truck entered the space it would trip the virtual beam at which point cameras would follow the truck and driver to the filling area. The truck would then be weighed before the load and after the load. All this information—weight of load, picture of driver, license plate—goes into a database to provide confirmation of the transaction. This information could also be used to prevent the delivery of goods if an outstanding invoice existed. Video analytics can be used in so many ways. It is growing as an important management tool for many businesses as well.”

Caveats and tips for deployment

According to Pat Fox, regional sales director of LPR and law enforcement operations for SW24, one of the challenges, under current tight budget constraints, is showing how the end user can make the deployment of the technology a revenue generator. He added that the technology is easy to use and there are no special skills necessary. “All the user has to do is be trained and he/she will be able to use the system in any of the applications needed. The training for use will range from one hour to four, depending on the application.”

Cestra said the biggest tip he would share with systems integrators is to make sure this is the direction the end user wants to go. “Video analytics can be very impressive, but if you don’t know what you are doing to make it work for the customer you could end up losing more than you gain. Make sure your customer base or target market wants this level of integration. Anyone can sell a camera; we provide proactive capture solutions,” Cestra said.