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The following is for informational purposes only

What Are License Plate Readers and How Do They Work?

License plate readers, known as LPR security cameras, have existed for a while. Law enforcement officers often use these readers to crack down on illegal activities, especially on the road. Thanks to the effectiveness of license plate readers, about 95% of police departments in major cities use them for various reasons.

At least 15 states have some sort of legislation regarding license plate readers. If you need to learn what LPRs are and how they work, here is some information that can help you learn more about these state-of-the-art digital cameras.

What Is a License Plate Reader?

A license plate reader enables government and private agencies to track where motorists drive and when. The LPR system has unique cameras creatively mounted to stationary locations like traffic lights. Moving machinery with engines, like trucks and cars, have license plate reader cameras installed. These high-quality cameras capture images of license plates and then convert them to text files.

They use optical character recognition technology to perform this function. After capturing a license plate, it records the text file, original image, and other crucial details. Some critical information captured by license plate readers and added to the central database includes the geographic coordinates, time, and date. Parties cleared to access and use data in this database include those in the insurance industry, law enforcement officers, and the car owner. In case of an accident or an altercation, investigators use the data captured by license plate reader cameras. Police departments in major cities also rely on the LPR database to conduct surveillance of motorists.

How License Plate Readers Work

License plate readers help recognize and capture license plates, which come in handy in case of an investigation. As mentioned earlier, LPRs have a high-quality camera that captures and relays information to the database. The high-resolution camera plays a crucial role in the functioning of LPR systems. Remember that the LPR system merely collects images of license plates but does not read the captured information.

On the other hand, a license plate reader equipped with recognition technology can examine the content of every license plate and then convert it into information you can access on the database. Such abilities explain why license plate numbers are easily accessible. The LPR camera captures the license plate details and sorts them out based on various criteria.

When law enforcement officers or security agencies want to pick a type of LPR system that works best for their department, they consider the exact role they want the system to play. If the goal is keeping track of cars entering and exiting buildings, they go for LPR systems with recognition technology. The recognition technology helps make work more accessible as the system automatically detects license plate details and relays them to the database.

Data Collected Through License Plate Readers

Knowing the data obtained by the license plate reader system will shed more light on how they work. You will also understand the kind of organizations that use them and their importance in maintaining security. Police squad cars can use mobile license plate scanners to capture details of vehicles on highways.

The cameras on LPR systems work in conjunction with automated red-light cameras or other speed enforcement systems. The automatic LPR system collects data on thousands of number plates every minute. After obtaining this data, the system uploads the information to the central server. Law enforcement officers can legally hold this information for 6 to 12 months.

Understanding the License Plate Reader Software

LPR cameras capture and store captured data from license plates with the help of a video management system. The LPR software then takes the information captured by cameras and allows users to compare new information with the one already stored in the database. The process plays a vital role, especially in investigations. The LPR system helps label and compare license plates with other license plates, which assists in regulating the entry of vehicles into buildings. For instance, security officers can use it to prohibit certain cars from accessing the property.

Furthermore, the license plate reader software helps monitor the entry and exit of vehicles from business premises. The LPR system helps detect any unwanted activities and solve crimes that happen on the property. Law enforcement officers combine the LPR software with access control software to provide or deny access to a protected building. The merge of functions by the system is done remotely and helps keep the building secure at all times.

Some people tend to question the legitimacy of LPR systems because they obtain license plate details without the consent of car owners. Since license plates are public information, capturing this information in whichever way is legal. The legality explains why law enforcement agencies can use LPR systems as evidence in court. However, as a private entity, you must alert users/customers before you capture their license plate information should someone file a lawsuit.

Other Uses of License Plate Readers

Besides their role in investigations, the applications of license plate readers are broad. For instance, the data obtained by LPR can help come up with traffic information and various car statistics in the country. The data can also convey information on suspicious activities around areas of interest like public offices or parks since the license plates get scanned randomly despite the owner's criminal history.

License plate readers help with border security by ensuring no vehicles crossing a country's border have anything or anyone suspicious, explaining why they are standard with law enforcement officers. Whenever the LPR software comes across a license plate with a previous criminal history, it can raise the alarm to alert officers. They then keep an eye on the individual and watch out for any illegal activities.

License Plate Readers Go Beyond Simple Security

A license plate reader is crucial for obtaining and storing license plate information. The LPR system is used by authorized personnel, and agencies monitor vehicle movements. Given the efficiency of license plate readers, their application has evolved beyond the initial security uses.

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