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The 3 Tools to Automate Number Plate/ License Plate Recognition

September 2, 2022

What is automation?

It is the use of technology to cut down the level of human effort in a process. It allows a device or a machine to operate without manpower. 

Types of Number Plate Automation Tools

Fixed/Hard Automation Tools

It performs a single set of tasks. An example of this is the conveyor belt system that moves objects from one point to another.

Programmable Automation Tools

It runs on computer program commands. It is common in mass production settings where similar products of the same kind are produced. 

Flexible/Soft Automation Tools

It is used in flexible manufacturing systems controlled by computers. Flexible automation is labour intensive and allows variations in manufacturing processes.

Integrated

It is the total automation of plants for manufacturing purposes. It hardly involves human effort and is handled by computer control processes. An example of these are robots.

What is number plate/licence plate recognition?

It is also known by other names including Automated Number Plate Recognition(ANPR), Automatic Vehicle Identification(AVI), Car Plate Recognition(CPR), Automatic License-Plate Reader(ALPR). This is digital technology that has the ability to read and recognise and acquire the images of vehicle registration plates with the use of digital cameras. These cameras capture videos or still images and process them with the use of recognition algorithms. These algorithms follow the following four steps. Vehicle image capture, number plate detection, character segmentation and character recognition. 

What is an automation tool? 

It is a specialised software which extends the surveillance system of standard cameras and videos with a capacity to automatically read vehicle number plates without human assistance.

What are the types of automation tools for number/license plate recognition 

Fixed 

A typical fixed automation tool is made up of up to four permanently installed C3 Series cameras coupled with infrared technology and colour overview. They simultaneously read multiple traffic lanes and also read number plates of vehicles in the following conditions: day and night in all weather and also of vehicles moving at a maximum of 130 mph.

Mobile 

They are installed on the cause of special Operation department or security and intelligence services for aiding and protection and surveillance. It contains megapixel sensors which scans a maximum of 100 number plates in a second from every angle and in any condition. Their video processing units display images on web-enabled tablets. 

Portable  

These tools are systems that get installed on traffic trailers. These trailers can be moved easily from one location to the other. It functions and runs solely on solar energy at every time. It also makes use of Wi-Fi connections with the use of air cards.

Examples of automation tools

The JeTBoF ANPR Back Office Package

It gives storage matching and reporting data with the use of Microsoft SQL server database. It can receive, process and store millions of reads in a day.

The Jet-JTMS Systems

This tool makes use of infrared cameras positioned at critical nodes along highways. They read number plates in time while traffic passes. The processing takes place in the camera or at the roadside. The central server is continuously served back with traffic data. This data produces accurate up-to-the-minute journey time data for any sort of nodes. This data can then be exported to other traffic management systems.

Jenoptik

Its VECTOR2 cameras are suitable for both fixed and portable applications. It produces high resolution images under any weather condition, time of the day or traffic speed. The cameras are automated to adapt to the prevailing condition while simultaneously monitoring multiple lanes.Their cameras are robust and durable and can be installed on street lights, traffic lights or existing masts. Jenoptik extracts extra information from recorded images and differentiates between vehicle classes.  It is also able to recognise any type of number plate.

Advantages of license plate automation tools

Security enhancement

It is able to survey areas where Security services may not take note of. It also helps the security services to multitask and in their monitoring activities without missing out on any important information.

Improvement in accuracy

It provides a more vivid image than the ones provided by eyewitnesses. They also take accurate records of the speed, colour and brand of vehicles while taking the number plates into account, which is a great source of information for the security officers as they may not get the right details in an emergency or in a criminal activity.

It acts as a deterrent

The presence of automation tools act as deterrents to traffic offenders as well as criminals who may otherwise have gotten away with their various times or misdemeanors.

Efficiency is enhanced

It functions without interrupting traffic flow. It also eases the burden of staff manually recording who is entering or exiting a site.

Challenges of automation tools

Privacy concerns

There are concerns about privacy protection as videos and images are stored for very long. Stalkers or criminals may take advantage of this to track a person's usual route.

Human error is overlooked

In a situation where a car is parked for a time beyond that which is allowed, the system does not give a grace period or take into account a possible human oversight which may have ended in the supposed offence.

Quality of captured image

Sometimes the quality of the image or the possibility of recognising the image can be affected or blurred by the prevailing weather conditions such as fog, dust, or rain.

Internet connection

Some automation tools require the use of the internet. Where connection fluctuates or is interrupted it defeats the purpose for which it was installed. This is especially in the situation where the video surveillance is for a particular period. 

Top automation tool use case

Automation tools are used by law enforcement bodies around the world for various functions. They help to recognise which vehicles have been registered and which ones have not been registered.  They are used by electronic toll collection points in monitoring traffic.  Automation tools help to curb recklessness on the road as many traffic users are wary of the possibility of being brought to book should they be guilty of offences such as driving unregistered vehicles, parking beyond the acceptable time and wrongful overtaking on the roads.  

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