ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) technology has been adapted to many functions since its early applications 30 years ago. Most of these functions improve traffic flow and safety, although the increasing use of the tools is being made in other areas of business and life.
Some privacy advocates have objected to the use of ALPR cameras as an unreasonable violation of privacy. Nearly all governments in the developed world have responded to these charges by crafting legislation to regulate the use of such cameras. It defines how operators can use the data generated from them and who can access it, how long they can retain it, and how they must encrypt it. Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulates the use of many kinds of personal data, including that from license plate readers. The vehicle, not its owner’s personal data, is what the camera identifies.
This article will look at the many benefits of the technology. We’ll discuss traffic surveillance, speed control, toll collection, identification of crime-linked vehicles, and other related topics.
Mobile Traffic Surveillance
Police cars mixing with traffic have unique opportunities to observe driver behavior and other factors related to the smooth and safe flow of traffic.
When they’re equipped with an on-board ALPR camera that can read the license plates of vehicles near them and identify the vehicles they’re attached to, they can:
- Identify speeders and other violators
- Recognize stolen vehicles and those connected to other crimes
- Identify cars known to have unpaid insurance
With the ability to quickly identify vehicle ownership, they can take appropriate action as soon as they spot trouble. ALPR represents a huge improvement over when they would have to call a plate number in to a central operator, who would look the number up and report back to the officer, often too late for them to take action. If it’s appropriate to apprehend the offender on the spot, they’ll know immediately if the driver is known to be dangerous, and they can call for backup.
If the officer should report the presence of a particular vehicle to other authorities, they have all the information immediately at hand to make the report.
Adaptive Recognition’s MicroCAM mobile ALPR camera is the ideal tool for this application.
A Threat to Neighborhood and Highway Safety – Speedsters and Red-Light Violators
Speeding and violating red lights are two of the most dangerous behaviors on the road.
In truth, speeding is defined as driving significantly faster than the general traffic flow, even if the general flow is fifteen km/h over the arbitrary speed limit. Cars moving faster or slower than traffic surprise other drivers, causing them to make sudden decisions. Under pressure to act quickly, they may make a decision that worsens the situation and starts an accident-causing chain of events.
Driving through red lights is maybe even more dangerous than speeding since a resulting accident usually occurs with two vehicles traveling across each others’ paths. And even if the two drivers managed to avoid each other, they may make sudden moves that lead to a “secondary” accident.
Anything we can do to discourage speeding and red-light violation is important in improving safety. Modern ALPR cameras can identify offenders so they can be apprehended, fined or otherwise discouraged from pursuing their dangerous habits.
Measuring average speeds over a road segment is a significant improvement offered by Adaptive Recognition’s S1 portable speed and traffic enforcement ANPR/ALPR camera. This feature catches drivers who slow down at known “speed traps” and then resume speeding when they think they’re not being watched. This camera can identify speedsters from up to 1km (0.6 mi) away, and it also can identify red-light violators, stolen vehicles, car insurance fraudsters, etc.
Automated High-Speed Toll Collection
Before ALPR came on the scene, toll collection was a slow and messy process.
When drivers had to stop or slow to a few km/h to pay tolls, it disrupted traffic, leading to accidents, created eyesores on highways and frustration for everyone. When drivers suddenly need to slow down significantly, some will react faster than others. Inattentive drivers may need to brake hard at the last minute. These disruptions set up perfect accident scenarios.
When ALPR cameras developed to the point of identifying vehicles at up to 300 km/h and connected with billing/automatic payment systems, there was no need to slow down to pay tolls.
The image shows the newly (2019) constructed bridge over the Roskilde Fjord in Denmark. This project is a perfect example of the traffic flow and safety enhancements afforded by ALPR-aided improvements.
ALPR has eliminated the traffic disruptions, delays, and frustration of old-fashioned toll collection, including those unsightly toll booths and plazas.
Records of Habitual Violators Follow Them When They Travel
People who drive a lot move around quite often, even leaving the boundaries of their home towns. If they’re regular speedsters or violators of other safety rules, their records often appeared clean in another city. Or at least that was the case until recently.
Adaptive Recognition’s Globessey Data Server (GDS) “middleware” changed all that. This app connects with ALPR devices on the input side and with international databases on the output side. Now police officers in a major city can access as much information about a driver based in another city or country as they can. Since this middleware can connect with databases of any size, the storage available to it is virtually unlimited.
Since drivers who regularly travel far and wide are sometimes the worst offenders, traffic safety in every neighborhood is improved through the use of this connectivity.
ALPR cameras are central players in all the neighborhood safety improvements we’ve discussed. Users in traffic safety organizations and in many other businesses are finding new ways to use this technology every week to improve safety and efficiency.
Adaptive Recognition has been a leader in this business since 1991. To learn more about the ways you might use ALPR technology in your business or other application, check out their website.
Photo by Mads Thomsen from Pexels
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