Here are 5 Things to Consider When You’re Choosing an ALPR Camera

Like the digital camera in your smartphone, an ALPR camera creates a digital image of whatever it’s pointed at. It searches the image for the license plate in it. Unlike less sophisticated license plate capturing cameras, the special-purpose search function is very selective in identifying the license plate. It’s rarely confused by hard-to-read plates or other lettering on a vehicle. 

It creates a separate digital image of the license plate, then uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to read the plate number and other information on the plate. That information is recorded in a digital file that is both human- and machine-readable.

Depending on how it’s hard-wired or custom-programmed, it compares that data to a database or transmits it to other software to generate additional information from the plate data.

Adaptive Recognition, a pioneer in the development of ALPR technology since 1991, has four basic camera models in its line-up. The hard-wiring mentioned in the last paragraph is a big part of what’s unique about each model. They also differ in physical form, mounting techniques, etc. Custom programming can turn each of these camera models into special-purpose instruments to perform the function you want.

The four basic models are:

Einar – This camera can be on a fixed or portable mounting in a location where it can see slower-moving vehicles as they pass it. 
Vidar – Reads license plates on vehicles at highway speeds. It’s usually on a fixed mounting where it can monitor all vehicles passing it.
MicroCAM – Mobile camera designed for vehicle-to-vehicle traffic monitoring
S1 – Speed and Traffic Enforcement camera. It can be on either a fixed or portable mounting.

Which camera to use, how to customize its capabilities, and what type of mounting is ideal for your needs are the main decisions you need to make when purchasing a camera.

These are the factors driving those decisions.

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How Fast Will the Vehicles You’re Monitoring be Moving?

If the vehicles are moving fairly slowly into or out of a parking lot or passing a security checkpoint, the Einar ALPR camera is your best choice.

If you’re concerned about their speed, as you might be at a security checkpoint, you can add an S1 speed camera.

Anytime you need speed data, no matter how fast or slowly the vehicles are moving, the S1 camera might be a good addition to any other ALPR system you’re using. It can also detect red-light violations.

If the vehicles are at highway speed, you should opt for the Vidar camera.

What Information Do You Want About the Vehicle?

If you need only the owner’s information, Adaptive Recognition’s Vidar camera can provide that.

Want to check if a vehicle is stolen or involved in other criminal activity? Connect the ALPR function with a database listing those vehicles.

As mentioned in the earlier section, speed can be measured and reported by the S1 Traffic Enforcement camera.

If you want to know about the owner’s status as an employee, recognized customer, or whether they’ve paid to use your facility, you can link the ALPR camera to your own database listing the desired information. You can also set up invoicing or automatic payment from their credit card or bank account if they’ve arranged that.

Identifying Vehicles that Could Pose a Security Risk

Linking up your ALPR camera with a criminal database would be your first step in this check.

You can also add physical checks of the vehicle to find out if they have anything onboard that you prohibit in your facility. In this application at EU and UK high-security government locations, the ALPR function is linked to an under-vehicle scanner that looks for prohibited items, material, etc.

Want Police Cars to Find Stolen Vehicles or Those Involved in Other Crimes?

This is a job for the MicroCAM car-mounted ALPR camera. It gives patrol cars the ability to monitor vehicles while moving through traffic and identify any that match the database listings you’re concerned with. The ALPR system can be connected with any database you have access to.

What’s the Most Useful Type of Mounting for Your ALPR Camera

The options here are a fixed mounting, a portable arrangement, or a mobile application.

Fixed Mounting

You would usually use this type of set-up when monitoring a steady flow of traffic in a relatively high-volume setting. You wouldn’t expect to move the camera except in the rare case of a maintenance need.

The camera would typically be mounted on a gantry or pole where it sees all the vehicles that pass under it. Collecting tolls on a major highway would be a common application of this arrangement.

Portable Set-Up

In this arrangement, you’d mount the camera where it’s easily accessible for unmounting and moving to another location. You might use this where you’re looking for short-term information. Monitoring traffic count as it varies through the day, week, or year could be such a situation. Once you’ve learned the pattern, you may want to move the ALPR system to a different location.

Mobile Deployment

An application employing this arrangement would use a lightweight ALPR camera like the MicroCAM. It can easily be used when the vehicle is moving or perhaps parked while monitoring traffic. It’s very easy to move it from one vehicle to another.

Refer to this guide again any time you have a new traffic monitoring need. Then check out the other considerations and options on Adaptive Recognition’s website. On each page of this site, there’s a link to a contact form. You can go there to connect with the company’s experts on the best ways to use ALPR technology for what you want to do.

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