Improving Surveillance with License Plate Recognition
License plate recognition (LPR) is an effective way to screen traffic in parking areas or moving through entry gates. However, proper setup is critical.
While license plate recognition might seem like a highly-advanced feature you’d only see in use by law enforcement or in the latest action movies, improvements to both camera image quality and surveillance infrastructure have drastically reduced the cost of this beneficial surveillance tool. If your business uses dedicated parking areas, controls access via an entry gate or checkpoint or simply wants an additional layer of information to help with convictable evidence, LPR will help!
Since LPR uses video analytics software to perform most of its functions, most high-definition IP cameras or HD-over-coax systems are ready to use the feature without extensive modification or additions to hardware. Using the video from your cameras, LPR software will scan any footage for license plate numbers and compare it to a database. Upon finding a match, the system will perform tasks you assign depending on your needs.
While most think of using LPR to capture criminals, locate stolen vehicles or provide convictable evidence for court proceedings, it has other general uses for businesses as well. When paired with a gate or access system for a parking lot or parking structure, the systems can help to provide access to secured areas without the need for physical interaction—such as a dedicated gatekeeper. When someone arrives at the gate, the system scans their plate and once matched within the database will open the gate. The system might also work for logging access times and maintaining accountability.
Considerations when Implementing LPR
Camera placement will ultimately determine the benefits you’ll gain from an LPR system. Consider these placement tips to help your cameras capture detailed, clear plate images:
- Keep angles low: While a camera mounted high overhead might be ideal for situational awareness, it will hamper the LRP software’s ability to scan plates. When possible, find an angle that provides a clear view of plates at common heights you’ll likely encounter.
- Consider lighting: If you’re planning to implement LPR in a parking structure or require capture of plate information at night, you’ll want to improve image quality with infrared lighting. If you plan to use flood lighting or other visible light, be sure to optimize angles to prevent glare or washing out the details on the plates as they approach your cameras.
- Closer is better: Zooming with your camera often introduces noise or artifacts. While this might not impact human observation, it might cause issues in automatically matching plates with your database. When possible, place your LPR cameras close to vehicles to ensure optimal detail and improved accuracy.
- Slow things down: While solutions exist capable of capturing plate information at speeds in excess of 70MPH, most of these systems are priced far higher than the budgets of the typical business. Designing your LPR system to capture plates in an area where speeds are slower than 35MPH will improve successful matching while also keeping costs to implement the system lower.
With the proper approach, license plate recognition offers accurate, consistent benefits for businesses looking to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. If you’d like to know more about how LPR might help your business, contact Security Surveillance Group today. Our experienced technicians understand the complexity of this cutting-edge technology and are ready to help you make the most of your surveillance system!