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The Latest in ALPR Technology
By: Stephenie Slahor
Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) units now combine the latest in high definition, recognition and searches. The technology can assist with recovering stolen cars, investigating auto-related crime, missing or wanted person searches, revenue generating, and simplifying routine parking checks. Here is a look at the industry’s leaders and what new and improved products they offer in ALPR.
The Avigilon Control Center high-definition license plate reader (LPR) provides single- and multi-layer LPR capability from a single camera. It integrates with the Avigilon Control Center and the LPR Capture Kit to be accurate in all weather and lighting conditions, 24 hours a day.
Single camera/multiple lanes coverage is offered along with the ability to import and monitor watch lists. E-mail alerts and on-screen alarms are instant. Flexible, post-incident plate searches are possible. The system can read license plate styles varying in size, shape and font.
Optimized for all lighting conditions, the system uses integrated, adaptive 850 nm infrared LED illumination and has an optional high-definition color day/night overview camera. It is factory focused and calibrated and has up to 100 feet/30 meters range. Fixed mountings can be installed on a pole, wall or pedestal. Capture kits cover either single lane or dual lane.
Bosch Security Systems
Bosch’s new Dinion capture 7000 camera operates in day or dark conditions using advances in optics, electronics, infrared illumination, and compensation to deliver consistent and reliable license plate capture. Its imager provides clear images for accurate visual identification.
During daylight hours, the overview camera captures the shape and color of the vehicle for identification. At night, the overview camera switches to monochrome and relies on pulsed infrared to capture images to identify vehicle make and model. The unit fully integrates with Bosch’s Divar 700 Digital Video Recorder and Video Management System.
The imaging system overcomes darkness and headlight glare, and minimizes overexposure (such as when the camera has the sun behind it), and can capture images at speeds up to 140 mph, and from a distance of up to 92 feet away, day or night.
CitySync Technologies / Image Sensing Systems
CitySync Technologies’ ALPR systems meet the challenges of license plate physical condition, variable fonts, vehicle speed, levels of reflection, angles and other factors. CitySync offers both hardware and software solutions. The “Jet-Aludra HD Intelligent ALPR” camera enhances police dispatch, travel time monitoring, site security, wrong-way detection, traffic management and parking enforcement. It synchronizes its HD infrared camera, HD overview and IR illuminators to produce higher quality overview even in low light.
The Series 7 version of the camera uses HD to produce accurate on-board capture of license plates, even on those with thin stroke widths, stacked characters or small fonts. The Series 8 version of the HD camera can capture up to two lanes of traffic without the need for additional roadside processors. Data is accurately processed within the unit and passed directly, via wired or 3G to a central server or office for analysis and hot list matching.
The Jet-Aludra has a low profile, compact shape and weighs less than 8 pounds so it is compliant for installations using approved brackets and mounts, and can be easily installed on existing street poles when rapid deployment is needed for temporary or semi-mobile applications.
Coban Technologies’ “Vision-ALPR” is rated by its manufacturer as a cost-effective ALPR unit that can integrate with COBAN in-car video systems, and make data sharing possible between agencies. Up to four ALPR cameras per vehicle can be supported, and the system runs continuously and automatically while recording video.
Federal, State and custom hot lists can be combined so the system gathers, analyzes, and acts on information about cars and/or persons of interest. A confirmed hit will trigger the COBAN video system. Captured plates are stored with their GPS coordinates to show where the scan or hit occurred, thus enhancing future plate search and analysis.
COBAN offers two ALPR configurations. EDGE-Vision is a lightweight ALPR system running on the COBAN EDGE video recorder. It is rated by its manufacturer as a cost-effective configuration that enables agencies to deploy ALPR technology on a broad scale. The COBAN EDGE video system integrates with the single-camera Vision ALPR system.
The COBAN Titan M7 is an all-in-one mobile computing platform that, in addition to running mobile application software, handles the four-camera Vision ALPR system and in-car video easily. This system is appropriate for agencies needing two or more of the systems, e.g. in-car computer, in-car video system, and the mobile ALPR system.
Data911 provides full-fleet ALPR integrated with the company’s Mobile Digital Video software, eliminating the need for a separate, dedicated computer. The unit runs on the same computer as do the in-vehicle applications. A patrol car equipped with the company’s LPR can read over 1,000 license plates per hour, comparing them against pre-loaded databases of priority plates at a rate of 150,000 per second, while leaving the CPU available for other tasks such as video processing and CAD. Any hits are alerted to the officer and can also trigger the video to start recording.
Updated priority lists are automatically sent out to the LPR-equipped vehicles via the server. The company cites the system’s low cost as an advantage in outfitting an entire fleet for a fraction of the cost of competing manufacturers. The system can search in exact or fuzzy matches, hot list matching, location, officer choice, time of read, or time of upload. The LPR image and data can be exported as JPEGs for court use.
Decatur Electronics (a Soncell North America company)
Decatur partnered with leading ALPR manufacturers to create the OnSite™ 400 LPR, a one-of-a-kind speed/ALPR trailer. It enables tracking vehicles at any location and provides license plate capture, GPS location, a photo of the vehicle, and time and date of read.
The unit has two 55-watt solar panels for extended battery life, high-capacity AGM batteries with an estimated five-day run time, a one-line variable messaging sign, two infrared/color LPR cameras, a heavy-duty trailer chassis, a removable tongue for security, and a three-digit 18-inch LED display that is visible from 1000 feet. The unit supports wireless cellular modem.
ELSAG North America
ELSAG’s newest “back office” operations center is the EOC 4, to manage a fleet of MPH 900 ® mobile ALPR units and/or a network of fixed ALPR cameras. There are enhanced features for data security and access. The EOC 4 uploads and archives both read and alarm data coming from all mobile and fixed cameras, while also managing distribution of the license plate database or hot list to the ALPR units.
The EOC 4 software includes a website to allow remote access to data by authorized users. An audit trail for visibility of data sets and use of system is featured. Also included is mapping with cross street locations, a lot list manager to limit visibility of specific hot lists, simplified approaches for adding additional cameras, enhanced reporting, and the ability to accept data from other external sources.
In other news, ELSAG has partnered with Whelen Engineering to create the fully integrated Light Bar ALPR, which gives another deployment option for the MPH-900®, an advanced and accurate ALPR system. ELSAG’s Mini ALPR cameras are concealed in Whelen’s Freedom series LED light bar. The light bar offers 70 percent lower amp draw over comparable strobe models, and gives heavy-duty, long-life operation while protecting the digital ALPR cameras.
The system offers a more covert ALPR option to traditional installations in which cameras are mounted in full view on the exterior of the car. Available in 50-inch and 55-inch lengths, the light bar is available with any LED color combination. The processing unit is usually stored in the vehicle trunk. The cameras can read license plates, comparing each to a hot list on the computer and alerting immediately if there is a match.
The unit captures up to 1,800 reads per minute, night or day, at up to 150 mph vehicle speed. Criminal intelligence data captured includes date and time stamps, GPS coordinates, photo of the license plate, and an overview photo of the vehicle. Such information can aid in witness identification, watch list development, placing a suspect at a scene, terrorist interdiction, and pattern recognition.
Genetec’s “AutoVu” license-plate recognition tool automatically reads license plates, compares them against selected databases, and alerts officers about vehicles of interest, by using a mobile LPR solution that can be merged into a citywide surveillance system. AutoVu automates the verification of license plates against wanted vehicle or revoked license databases.
A cross check of every vehicle by a patrolling officer can be done, spanning up to three lanes on either side, or vehicles parked in parallel or angled settings. If a plate read matches an uploaded hot list, AutoVu will alert with an audible alarm and will display a color image of the identified vehicle, its license plate, and the categories of interest. Data mining allows searching license plate reads to determine the date, time and location of the sighting by either a complete or partial license plate number.
Different priorities can be assigned to the hot lists, configuring each priority with a different color and alarm tone to give both a visual and audible alert to identify the type of hit and its importance. For covert investigations, a covert hot list can be created so that, when there is a hit, only the officer at the department using the AutoVu system within the security center will be alerted. An optional map display can be configured as the vehicle moves, thus maximizing the use of the system about the vehicle’s current position and areas covered. The system is wirelessly enabled for the downloading of hot lists and uploading of enforcement data from and to the AutoVu system within the security center.
INEX / ZAMIR Technologies
Supplying ALPR technology for over 15 years, INEX/ZAMIR offers technology solutions and service tools for successful integration of license plate data with the applications an agency needs. The “DY Camera/Illuminator” provides a megapixel GigE Vision™ image sensor optimized for license plate recognition. It is available in three modes for lane width coverage greater than 12 feet. It performs equally well with fast or slow moving traffic, and provides up to 50 images per second.
The “HY ALPR Camera/Illuminator” has an integrated pulsed infrared illumination system and provides up to 60 progressive scan images per second. Operating continuously in day or night lighting, with high contrast images even in direct sunlight, it is designed for high-speed applications.
The DTE License Plate Recognition System is an all-inclusive device, from imager, to processor, to optional gate controlling relays, thus providing all the needed components of an effective ALPR system. It features quick installation and provides up to 60 images per second. A variable multi-shutter table arrangement provides results in daylight, nighttime, direct sunlight, or oncoming headlights. It includes an integrated data processing unit with software.
L-3 Mobile-Vision provides license plate recognition (LPR) systems that make technology work for law enforcement. The AlertVU™ LPR system utilizes state-of-the-art multi-process plate recognition technology that enables multiple “plate image streams” to be processed through multiple recognition engines concurrently.
Each AlertVU system utilizes the vehicle’s Mobile Data Computer (MDC) to run the AlertVU software application, which controls and manages the system (including the cameras). The AlertVU systems can operate individually (without any other Mobile-Vision in-car equipment) or as an integrated solution with their Flashback in-car video system.
When integrated with a Flashback system, it utilizes the wireless transmission capability of Flashback to transmit and receive information with the back office Digital Evidence Server (DES) Pro that stores the license plate information. The DES Pro can automatically download updated license plate lists of stolen cars, expired registrations, or cars to be on-the-lookout for so the AlertVU can read, recognize and immediately alert officers to any matches. The flexible and scalable system allows agencies to customize the solution to their individual needs.
NDI’s ALPR applications include mobile systems for patrol cars, portable covert systems, and fixed systems. The company is the designer and proprietor of the Neural Network Technology-based “Talon” ALPR engine and is the only supplier owning two ALPR engines.
NDI Recognition Systems provides a full range of ALPR software for fixed and mobile applications including “Veriplate,” based on a Talon recognition engine that includes GPS mapping, real-time access to hot lists, and single click checking; “VISCE” with a platform to collect bulk hot lists from various sources, disseminate to the mobile ALPR vehicles, and facilitate of the uploading of collected plate information; and “TALON,” a highly efficient software for ALPR, typically better than 97 percent accurate.
PIPS Technology (3M)
PIPS Technology, a 3M company, and Motorola Solutions have teamed up for a state-of-the-art ALPR solution. PIPS Technology provides license-plate recognition systems for Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies. 3M/PIPS’ fixed LPR cameras provide continuous monitoring of vehicles, communicating all database hits to agencies for deployment, and creating an evidentiary record of an infrared license plate image and color overview image of the vehicle. Exclusive to the 3M/PIPS system is the TripleFlash™ that varies the flash, shutter and gain settings of the camera to capture multiple images. Only the image with the highest quality is processed. The system provides 130 mph relative capture speed with 90 percent accuracy. The technology can help locate stolen cars, catch toll both fee violators, enforce parking ticket regulations, control access to parking lots, prevent commercial parking lot fraud, catch speeding motorists, and monitor traffic patterns for road projects. It is a productivity improvement tool and revenue generator, and a cost-effective way to put extra “eyes” on the streets for “force multiplying.”
The Plate Finder™ technology, also exclusive to 3M/PIPS, continuously searches the camera’s field of view for the presence of a license plate. A dual lens camera is triggered to capture a color image of the vehicle and an infrared image of the license plate. The robust BOSS back-office software enables users to organize and archive data generated by the fixed and mobile units for analysis, investigative support, and alert notifications.
The mobile system utilizes very small, dual-lens, low-profile cameras that capture a color image of each vehicle while the infrared lens captures the license plate. Permanently mounted to a lightbar, secured by magnet mounts to trunks, or used as a portable application, Triple Flash and Plate Finder technologies deliver highly accurate images and data to the BOSS back-office system. The system’s Super Rex Processor stores the data via an ALPR processor stored in the trunk of the patrol vehicle, and sends an alert to the officer’s laptop when a vehicle of interest is identified.
Vigilant Solutions is a provider of innovative intelligence solutions to save lives. One of the leading license plate recognition (LPR) provider in North America, over 28,000 sworn law enforcement use Vigilant Solutions’ products and services. A pioneer in LPR, Vigilant transformed LPR data sharing by creating the National Vehicle Location Service (NVLS), a nationwide, cloud-based, LPR data-sharing initiative of over 1 billion LPR records accessible only to credentialed law enforcement. Vigilant’s cloud solution also allows agencies to easily and cost effectively implement LPR programs without the need for expensive server hardware or database expertise.
Vigilant’s Mobile LPR is one of the most advanced and intuitive system of its kind. It recognizes and interprets license plates from up to four dual-lens and ruggedized cameras, matches license plate reads against various hotlists, and alerts officers to vehicles of interest on the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) or laptop. With exclusive features from Vigilant such as Mobile Hit Hunter, Vigilant’s mobile LPR system provides officers in the field with real-time field intelligence to improve their safety and enhance the efficiency of their patrol.
Vigilant also provides other innovative tools to help protect officers, families and communities. Outside of the car, Vigilant offers a light and intuitive smartphone application, Mobile Companion, that provides an easy-to-use LPR system for special events, foot patrols, bike rallies and other events where mobile LPR may not be practical. Vigilant’s fixed LPR products provide strategic monitoring around cities or locations of critical infrastructure. LEARN is a powerful enterprise LPR analytic suite that consolidates all available LPR information and allows for easy querying, data sharing, partial plate lookups, pattern crime analysis for common license plates, geo-fence queries, public records integration, and much more.
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D., writes in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at email@example.com.