ANPR, or Automatic Number Plate Recognition, is a tool that is being utilised already across the country and can be used for many different applications ranging from offence prosecution for drivers with no license to traffic and parking monitoring. There are already thousands of ANPR capable cameras installed right across the UK and plans are afoot to have many more installed. As well as those covering highways and byways, there are ANPR cameras covering town and city centres as well as mobile and even covert cameras.
How ANPR Works
ANPR uses OCR, or Optical Character Recognition to identify the numbers and letters on a number plate. These are then usually stored in a central database and as long as the cameras themselves are set up for ANPR they can be used to cover a surprisingly large amount of space. Two cameras can cover both directions of the 27 lane Dartford crossing motorway.
Systems are being installed in more and more police traffic cars as well as specialist police vans and CCTV vans. The cameras fitted in these vehicles usually operate forwards and to the side of the vehicles and they can be portable, fixed, or even covert giving a great range of opportunities to the police force.
Private uses of the ANPR system include parking management. Pay and display car parks can be difficult and costly to police and monitor regularly and routinely. However, by installing ANPR cameras at the entrance and exit it is possible to accurately locate every car that enters and exits, therefore determining how long they have spent within the car park.
Congestion charging is another viable use of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. Rather than having to employ numerous toll booths and operators, and then demand that every vehicle stop, using an ANRP system would allow for each car to be checked in order to determine whether or not the driver has a valid parking license or permit. This means that thousands of vehicles can pass through the congestion charge area each hour.
Petrol station forecourts also operate ANPR cameras. These are used to record details of non-paying customers, whether they are unable to pay or drive off without making payment. Cashiers can be warned as soon as a car drives up that is found to be on the Petrol Forecourt Database of Offenders. This not only includes petrol thieves but also customers that are flagged as previously unable to pay.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition
The uses of ANPR are many and it is already proving a popular system with police and private contractors to catch and even prosecute. It also has a number of practical uses including the ability to ease congestion and monitor journey times.