Automatic Number Plate Recognition ANPR.

What is ANPR?

Automatic number plate recognition is becoming a very useful tool for all sorts of organisations. It is being used to control entry, monitor movement of vehicles around the country, catching speeding motorists, controlling car parking amongst other things.

How does it work?

Essentially software is used that recognises a standard number plate when the image from the ANPR camera is presented to it. It then converts the image it sees into data and decodes the data to decide what action it will take IE open a barrier or issue a fine etc.

Can any camera be used?

It depends. Some of the of the difficulties of capturing number plates includes  lighting levels, speed of the vehicle and the angle of the camera in respect to the number plate. In general it should be noted that the essential thing is for the CCTV camera to have extremely high shutter speeds. Also IR light is very helpful in allowing the camera to work when being blinded by headlights. Some manufacturers have tried incorperating ANPR into their DVRs , however it is generally thought that because ANPR is such a specialist subject it is better to use a dedicated stand alone solution rather than try to intergarate it into other CCTV security solutions

Car Parks.

You will need to be extremely careful nowadays when going over your time in a car park. McDonald’s for instance have recently introduced ANPR cameras in some of their car parks. These cameras capture the image of your plate when you enter and note what time this is. They do the same on the way out. If you have overstayed their mandatory 2 hour limit you will be issued with a fine. Annoying if you are the victim but this does stop drivers abusing the car park and leaving cars for hours on end when they are not actually using the restaurant. Expect this practice to become very popular with other big companies.

Barrier control.

Another good use for the ANPR camera is Access control on barrier systems. Companies are starting to use this method of entry technique when they have a secure site but a high flow of  known traffic through the gates. From a cost point of view it is so much cheaper than employing a security guard at the gatehouse and possibly more accurate .The software knows what vehicles it holds authorised plates for and will allow through the barrier . The barrier will  lift it automatically for these vehicles. Any traffic that in unauthorised will have to use an intercom to communicate with reception and if it is deemed the person is on site for genuine reasons then the barrier can be raised manually. Some bonded warehouses actually have a legal obligation to record the number plate of every vehicle movement into and out of site.

The police

In fighting crime ANPR has become invaluable. The police are able to enter the number plates of suspects into the ANPR software they operate nationwide . When a target vehicle is on the move they know immediately and are able to judge whether that vehicle is a threat especially now with terrorism so high on the agenda. ANPR is helping to keep us all safer.

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