been estimated that as much as 70 percent of criminal activity in the U.S.
involves a vehicle. In addition, an estimated 40 million license privileges
have been revoked, suspended or denied. So it follows that the need for
automatic license plate recognition is critical to law enforcement for highway
and traffic safety, security, recovery of stolen vehicles and license plates,
AMBER Alerts, school traffic and bus safety, hot list monitoring, and access
ELSAGNorth America (now part of Selex ES through the merger with two other U.S.-based
Finmeccanica companies: Selex System Integration, Inc. and Selex
Communications, Inc.) is dedicated to providing law enforcement agencies with
the industry’s leading license-plate recognition systems and technology.
advancements made by ELSAG in electronic and information technologies not only
for law enforcement, but also military, air traffic control, communications, and
energy efficient buildings, give strength to Selex ES’ product development and
commercialization and make possible solutions that address changing high technology
Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology for Federal, State and local law
enforcement agencies is offered under the brand name of “ELSAG North America”
until the fourth quarter of 2014 when the name will officially change to Selex
License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology is image-processing technology to
identify vehicles by their license plates. Optical character recognition uses
algorithms that “read” a license plate by transforming the image pixels of the
digital image into the text of the license plate. This can take place under
varying lighting conditions including darkness (using infrared lighting). The
license plate is identified by the sequence of its number and letters.
State from which the plate originates is determined based on the configuration
and sequence of the numbers and letters. (ELSAG works with States to understand
how plates are issued, and then the company keeps up to date on the sequences.)
End users have the option of turning on or off the State recognition
capability. Geographical protocols for the highest concentration of plates
within an area are developed.
example, in New York City, the State identification is for New York, New Jersey
and Connecticut. ELSAG’s “read” rate is 15 per second at vehicle speeds up to
150 mph. The character images of the plate are translated into letters and
numbers, and time-date stamped with GPS coordinates in real time. This data can
then be automatically compared to a variety of law enforcement databases.
match between a license plate that is read by the ALPR system and one in the
law enforcement database will trigger an alert to the officer or the remote
command center. The applications for
such readers include identifying vehicles connected to a crime or infraction,
access control, traffic management, parking management, and tollbooth operations.
ALPR cameras can be mounted to police vehicles, or on such stationary
structures as a bridge, pole, overpass, gate or other fixture.
ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter-900
Mobile Plate Hunter-900® (MPH-900®) is designed for investigation of stolen vehicles
or plates, wants/warrants, watch lists, suspended plates, and such after-action
analysis as pattern analytics or other intelligence. Cameras, a processing unit
and proprietary software capture images of the plates and compare them with
records to identify any vehicles of interest.
system can read plates from all 50 States, Canada, Mexico and most foreign countries.
The MPH-900 system can be combined with the Fixed Plate Hunter-900® (FPH-900®)
to create a “network” of ALPR systems that can be flexible or easily adaptable
for temporary situations such as sporting events.
MPH-900 is attached magnetically to the patrol car so the camera can read
plates from fast-moving vehicles, capturing their locations and times. An
infrared camera captures the image of the license plate and a computer then
reads the plate characters and compares them with a crime database. Officers
are alerted if there is a match.
Mobile Plate Hunter-900 can be mounted to a patrol car and connected to an
onboard computer running ELSAG’s latest user interface, CarSystem 6™. When a
plate that is “read” matches a plate listed on a hot list, an audible and
visual alarm will alert the officer in real time, giving the officer views of
the plates being read and information about the reason for the alert.
CarSystem 6 can be installed on the Fixed Plate Hunter 900 and be reviewed
remotely. CarSystem 6™ makes possible a more intuitive user interface,
flexibility in hot lists, expanded mapping, officer’s notes/real-time information,
enhanced reporting, image zoom, and easier referencing.
images from the Mobile Plate Hunter-900 capture nearly twice the physical area
of an analog camera, thus revealing not only the license plate, but a
significant portion of the car and the car’s surroundings—views that can
enhance an investigation. The unit takes progressive scan digital images for
better quality and clarity, detail and larger image area through interlacing. It
can be configured with a variety of different camera ranges, updated quickly,
and prioritize multilevel alarms.
addition, the MPH-900 helps eliminate some guesswork associated with suspect
vehicle identification by indicating the nature of the crime or infraction
associated with the specific suspect vehicle. This allows officers to prepare
for safe interdiction.
can process both parked and moving vehicles across up to four lanes of traffic,
day or night, in any weather. It can capture thousands of license plates during
a shift. The data record will include the date and time stamp, photo of the
vehicle and its immediate surroundings, and GPS coordinates of the vehicle’s
location when the photo was taken. Such
information can lead to witness identification, watch list development, the
placing of a suspect at a particular scene, and pattern recognition.
MPH-900 can also be useful for identifying a vehicle associated with an AMBER
Alert when only a partial license plate number is available. Advanced
algorithms can help fill in the missing characters, which can make a vast
difference in situations where time is critical. Yet another capability of the
MPH-900 is the capability to set sensitive areas with a “virtual fence” by
mapping the perimeter of the area through GPS coordinates.
unauthorized vehicle is identified in the “fenced” area, an alarm instantaneously
notifies the officers so they can respond accordingly. This application is
useful for permit parking, or for enforcing areas of a community in which sex
offenders are prohibited such as schools and playgrounds. The processor unit is
small enough to stow easily in a vehicle trunk, and the reader requires less
than 60 watts of 12V DC to function.
ELSAG FPH-900 ALPR
FPH-900 is a fixed camera ALPR solution for mounting on light poles, bridge
gantries, buildings and tunnel entrances. It integrates all that is needed for
license plate recognition within an IP65 case and includes the sensor, a
self-contained, independent infrared lighting system, and a processing unit. ELSAG
manufactures custom brackets for DOT compliance and installation. The color
camera used produces a wider angle, color context image for every license plate
technology can be incorporated in a system that combines the fixed digital
camera(s) with a rugged mini computer. It supports both cellular and WiFi
connectivity to give seamless integration with the ELSAG Operations Center™
software. The FPH-900 has all the capabilities of the MPH-900, but uses a
communication network to transmit the data from the camera to a command center
monitoring activity and to the dispatched officers.
has partnered with Whelen Engineering to create an ALPR lightbar—the first,
fully integrated such lightbar on the market. It features the Mobile Plate
Hunter-900. The camera is concealed inside Whelen’s Freedom series LED lightbar,
a unit that offers 70-percent lower amp draw over comparable strobe modes. The
system gives a more covert ALPR option, while providing lightbar length of 50
inches or 55 inches, and any LED color combination. The bar meets or exceeds
SAE Class 1 and California Title XIII requirements.
benefit a community by proactive traffic and safety measures, assistance with
interdiction, and recovery of stolen vehicles, so grant funding may be
available to assist an agency seeking to add ALPR technology to its resources. The
ELSAG website has links to Federal grant money opportunities including the U.S.
Department of Justice, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the
Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance
website also links to grant assistance for block or formula grants,
discretionary grants, and other funding sources, plus tips for increased funding
options. Funding goals can be brainstormed with a company representative by
addition, ELSAG North America LLC has a GSA Schedule 84 contract for Total
Solutions for Law Enforcement Security, Facilities Management, Fire, Rescue,
Clothing, Marine Craft and Emergency/Disaster Response.
Visit www.gsaadvantage.gov and search on the
whole phrase “ELSAG North America LLC” to access listed products and to contact
an ELSAG sales representative. State contract funding opportunities are also
listed on the ELSAG website. Click on the “How To Buy” tab, or the FAQs that
relate to funding.
ELSAG Tactical Operations Center
Tactical Operations Center (EOC) is their newest back-office operations center.
This data management software, the EOC 5, continues to manage a fleet of
MPH-900 mobile LPR units and /or a network of fixed LPR cameras with enhanced
features for data security and access. The EOC 5 uploads and archives both read
and alarm data coming from all the vehicles and fixed cameras.
5 software includes a website that allows remote access to data by authorized
users. It also manages distribution of the plate database or hot lists to LPR
units. EOC 5 is the brain that manages all of these intelligence assets, and
provides law enforcement agencies with the flexibility to set parameters that
are in line with agency policies regarding automatic license-plate recognition
data storage, access and use.
with multi-level permissions, hot list flexibility, detailed mapping, data
merging and extensive reporting, and an audit trial that keeps track of who is
accessing the data and what searches are conducted. The EOC 5 includes a number
of new features:
Authentication: The EOC 5 allows authentication
using Active Director or SQL Server authentication, which gives flexibility in
how the EOC 5 is integrated into a network.
Security: The EOC 5 includes a
sophisticated and highly granular authorization scheme. It allows restricting access to both system
features and data. For example, a user account can be created that has
read-only access to some data, read and write access to other data, and no
access to other data. This allows fine-tuning the system to the organization’s
needs, and makes it possible to manage separately several agencies or groups on
the EOC 5.
Data Mining: Queries are efficient because
the data is paged on the database. Slices of data are returned to the
application—search and report on historical alarm and LPR data, and hot list
Hot Lists: Hot-list management features
include managing hot list data and attributes as well as uploading existing hot
list data through a simplified interface. Script files (XML) automatically
parse the incoming data into a correct format for the database.
Licensed and Integrated Mapping
Engine: The EOC
5 uses an integrated and licensed mapping engine to plot data points on a map
and manipulate the image. This means that the EOC does not rely on an Internet
connection or remote system to map and render data.
Comprehensive Audit Trail: All user actions in EOC are
logged for complete visibility into operations on data, and use of the system
features. Each entry in the log includes a live link to view the operation performed.
Easy System Administration: A powerful scheduling engine
within the EOC 5 allows control when the database and system maintenance tasks
run. It also allows scheduling such intensive computing activities as hot list
imports and updates for times when the system loads are lower.
Collecting and Exporting System
EOC 5 provides seamless integration between multiple EOC implementations. All
authentication, authorization and operations work the same whether connecting
two EOC servers or more. Searches across multiple linked servers perform at
Integration at Any Point Through Software Development Kits. The EOC 5 is based
on the LPR Core System plug-in architecture. This enables third-party
developers to develop code for the LPR Core System to process data or to perform
other custom operations. Software development kits thus allow third-party
application access to any part of the ELSAG system (e.g. camera, EOC) for data
input or extraction. This functionality makes the EOC 5 flexible and
Scalability: Because the system pages on the
database directly, and does not load all data from a query into the memory, the
system can perform nimbly, even with large amounts of data. As the number of
users and the amount of data grow, the system remains responsive.
Real-Time Data Transfer Using State-of-the-art
The EOC transfers data from LPR cameras and Car System using state-of-the-art
Low Total Cost of Ownership: The EOC 5 was developed using
technology that allows faster development and reduced problems so the system is
more robust and easily and automatically updated. EOC works in all major
browsers and requires no additional browser plug-in. That means the EOC does
not have to be deployed differently in different browser environments.
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D.,
writes in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at