ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology has been around and in active use for decades. Here we explore the most important applications of the technology. In many, perhaps most, applications those whose plates are being read are not consciously aware that they’re “on camera. ”Where do ANPR cameras change people’s lives the most?
ANPR Cameras Impact Traffic Flow in Many Ways
Everywhere vehicles must be counted, speeds must be measured, tolls or fares must be paid, ANPR technology is in action.
According to a study of applications on Google, the top five uses of ANPR cameras, or LPR (License Plate Recognition) as it’s commonly known in some places, are:
Vehicle Access Control
The flexibility and speed of ANPR technology are hard to beat, where a high vehicle flow volume must be monitored. Alternatives such as manual control by security personnel (slow and error-prone) or sophisticated RFID systems (expensive) can’t compete with ANPR. Where high security levels are important, multi-factor authentication can be added to the basic technology. Want to add face recognition, under-vehicle search, document authentication, or other security enhancements? No problem. Adaptive Recognition’s Carmen and Einar systems can be integrated with software to implement any of these increased security modifications.
Data Collection in Smart Cities
Urbanization is an increasing trend throughout the world. More and more, people prefer to live in cities. With the resultant increases in traffic flow, governments struggle to understand the current and future requirements of citizens’ and visitors’ movements. ANPR is being used more and more to monitor and analyze traffic flow. In addition to reading plates, ANPR/ALPR technology can add information about volume, direction, vehicle speed and classes of vehicles.
When patrol cars have the ability to accurately and quickly identify a license plate and research information related to it, whether the vehicle is at normal, or even abnormally high traffic speeds, busting and apprehending violators of all kinds becomes much easier for the police. Whether it be dangerous driving, identification of stolen vehicles, or other criminal or terrorist activities, the police can act without the delays that hampered them when they had to call in a plate number and wait for someone to research it manually and return the information.
Red Light Enforcement
When drivers ignore traffic signals such as red lights, they risk accidents involving multiple parties, especially during high-traffic hours. ANPR/ALPR cameras installed at red light locations prone to such violations identify the drivers who set up these dangerous situations so they can be apprehended and penalized.
As cars get faster and roads are built for easier traffic flow, drivers tend to drive faster and, consequently, in a more reckless manner. This almost certainly results in an accident. Specific ANPR camera models are now capable of accurately measuring vehicle speeds up to 300 km/h (cca. 180 MPH). With ANPR monitoring and control, speeds can be controlled to eliminate up to 50% of lethal speed-related accidents.
Other Applications of ANPR Cameras in Managing Traffic Flow
While the five ways of employing ANPR/ALPR technology we’ve discussed so far are most common, there are other situations where these cameras deliver capabilities that would be hard to duplicate any other way.
Some of these other ways ANPR cameras can be used are:
When cars had to stop at toll booths to pay their tolls for a bridge, tunnel or toll road, the toll plazas were nuisances for everyone, drivers and authorities alike. Any interruption of traffic flow, especially on a high-speed road, causes congestion and accident risk. Removing toll booths has freed up human capital to do more productive things, improved traffic flow and safety, and improved the landscape. The toll plazas disrupted the highway scene themselves, in addition to being collectors of trash. Only in the most remote low-traffic locations do toll booths still exist.
EV Charging Stations
As electric vehicles have become more common, charging stations are appearing in many commercial and residential areas. While the payment arrangements for use of these stations vary, ANPR cameras and their linked software systems can accommodate a variety of payment protocols to keep traffic flowing smoothly through these potentially crowded locations.
Using ANPR capability in high-traffic areas, parameters such as traffic density, slow-downs, queues, and wrong-direction drivers can be analyzed. With this analytical capability, authorities can react faster and more effectively to potential or real-time problems. These analytics can also be the basis for redirecting traffic to improve flow in smart cities.
Limited Traffic Zones
These are parts of certain cities where traffic is limited to vehicles that meet certain conditions. The limitations could be simply traffic volume, or it could be only certain classes of vehicles allowed. Purposes vary and could include protection of environmentally sensitive areas, historical areas or critical facilities such as bridges or tunnels.
Parking entrance and exit queues can be very exasperating, especially at busy times when the lines get long and time-consuming. ANPR technology can identify regular users of such facilities and enable automatic time measurement and payment arrangements such as automatic charges to credit cards or bank accounts. New users can be sidelined to where they can make one-time arrangements or set up accounts. For most traffic through the facility, tickets become a thing of the past – everything is handled with no waiting lines or booths to deal with.
While the applications of ANPR cameras we’ve discussed here are the most popular and widely used, the possibilities for unique uses of the technology, through linking with specialized databases and software, are virtually limitless.
To see more of what Adaptive Recognition’s specialized products can do for you and your vehicle identification needs, and to discuss your particular application, read more here.