Parking management is a crucial component of any building plan, particularly for businesses with limited parking space availability. Spaces for tenants need to be readily accessible and parking management can be significantly more complex if the lot is gated and access is monitored and controlled. Specifically, when user PIN codes are forgotten, or identification tags are lost, the burden of solution eventually falls to you, the building owner. Fortunately, the decreasing cost in high resolution cameras has opened up a new option for parking lot management; namely, the use of License Plate Reader Cameras (LPRs).
Five reasons you should consider LPRs as an option for your parking management needs:
- Improved Technology: License Plate Readers are now faster, with instant reads and positive verification based on vehicle type and color. Sensor technology has become cheaper and more reliable in high resolution cameras (1080P+ resolution). These technological advances have migrated to LPRs and have had a similar effect.
- Reliability: Every car has a license plate and that is rarely, if ever, changed. With an IP connected LPR, updates can be made quickly and easily to add and remove access as needed. The days of having to remember a pin code or hold the tag up just right so the reader can acknowledge it are over.
- Scalability: LPRs can be used to control a single entrance with a standalone package at the gate, which then sends a signal to open when an approved vehicle pulls up. It can be also implemented at an entire college campus using mobile apps and vehicle mounted cameras. These alert security staff what cars are not properly registered to park there as they are driving through the lot.
- Speed: With free flow parking management, you can include maps that show parking enforcement staff the exact location of violators as they move through a lot. Some LPRs can read plates at speeds above 50MPH allowing for the elimination of gates and security posts, which can slow traffic. Almost any road can be covered with LPRs without modification.
- Connectivity: When integrated into other systems, license plates can be flagged to send an alert by email or to a manned security desk. For example, if there is concern over a disgruntled ex-employee on the premises, the appropriate parties can be notified before the person is even out of their car. Some systems are even able to sound an alert throughout the building and lock the doors.
LPRs are a tried and tested technology, to which anyone who’s tried to speed through a toll booth can attest! They can be added to many existing access control, CCTV, and security systems or installed as standalone units. With IP connectivity they can be easily managed, even from a central office off site. Consider License Plate Reader technology for your parking management solution – there are many variations on the market and can fit into almost any budget.
Here are 5 of the most popular uses for LPR cameras:
- Parking lots: Many crimes can occur in a parking lot, from simply backing into another person’s car, to vandalism, mugging, or worse. The presence of cameras can help to capture those crimes, while LPR technology can ensure you record the license plate so that the police can successfully track down the culprit.
- Dumpsters: Many clients reach out to us for a solution for illegal dumping in their community dumpsters. Companies loose thousands of dollars each year to people that drive up to an unattended dumpster and dump their unwanted items. Imagine if those license plate cameras captured the license plate to turn over to the authorities to recover the community losses.
- Private Communities: Many people choose to live in gated communities for the safety, security, and exclusivity it offers. However, while guards at the gate and camera systems throughout the streets can help filter who enters and exits, smart criminals may actually know someone in the neighborhood or could pose as a worker or someone else. Capturing every license plate can help to dwindle down a list of suspects should an incident occur.
- Construction Sites: Whether you’re remodeling your office or you’re managing the new construction of a large building, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the workers in and out of your job site. Listing license plate numbers can help you keep a thumb on when people are entering and leaving the site, and narrow down suspects should there be an instance of theft or vandalism. It can also help you keep an eye on employees to make sure work is progressing according to schedule.
- Schools and Hospitals: These sensitive public areas can utilize LPR cameras to monitor and control who accesses their campuses. In some cases, “hotlists” can be made of license plates to quickly identify when known criminals, reported offenders, or other suspicious characters enter the vicinity. This allows security officials to quickly notify police so that the person can be removed before causing any harm.
- Traffic Violations: The police have also found new ways to enhance the way they use LPR cameras and now install them in major intersections or along toll roads to help enforce important traffic laws. These cameras not only capture people speeding or skipping out on toll fees, but can also be helpful in identifying and punishing drunk and reckless drivers or for tracking down criminals on the run.
Capturing License Plates
One of the most common needs our customers have is the ability to identify vehicles on or near their property. This can be achieved if you follow the rules and recommendations we detail below. It is important that you follow them simply because capturing a license plate is one of the most challenging tasks a video surveillance system is asked to do. In fact, it’s easier to get facial recognition than it is to capture a license plate. The advice below will solve the challenges and produce the desired results.
Understanding the 4 Challenges to Consider when implementing a License Plate Camera
The environment creates several challenges that may have to be addressed to capture moving license plates.
1. Slowing Down
- Speed of the Car – The average speed the cars will be traveling is an important factor in which camera to use. It is best to select a targeted area that requires the car to reduce its speed as much as possible. If the car is traveling faster than 20 miles an hour, you will require a specialty license plate camera that has the ability to adjust shutter speeds so the image does not blur. If the vehicle is traveling under 20 miles an hour, the task becomes much easier.
- Camera Location – The location of the camera to the car’s path is very important. If the camera is placed at too much of an angle from the plates path, no camera will produce the results needed. The best location for a camera is one that allows the camera to view the approaching or leaving plate perpendicularly (as close to direct on as possible). The easy way to test the camera location is to simply park a car at the location you plan to capture the plate, and then stand at the camera location. If you can clearly read the plate, the location should work.
Key Rule – One camera MUST be dedicated to ONLY reading license plates. This will allow you to adjust the field of view specifically for this task assuring success.
2. Viewing Angle
- Dedicated Camera – The most common mistake made is to ask one camera to do the work of two or three. Often a customer will expect to view their company’s driveway, see the persons face in the car, and read the license plate. Each one of these tasks require a different field of view (or focal length). Usually the camera is set to a wide viewing angle to see as much as possible, completely eliminating the ability to capture the detail needed to read a license plate. So here is the Key Rule: One camera MUST be dedicated to ONLY reading license plates! This will allow you to adjust the field of view specifically for this task assuring success.
- Glare – At night, the camera has a difficult job balancing between the darkness and the intense lights of an oncoming car. The solution for capturing plates at night is to use a camera designed specifically for License Plate Capture, they have back lighting adjustments which eliminates the glare. Most HD cameras can easily capture plates during the day, but there is no guarantee of successfully capturing plates at night. As the example below shows, the camera with back lighting eliminates the glare but the HD camera does not.
- Selecting the Right Camera – There are two distances that matter when choosing the right camera for your application.
- The distance from the camera location to the location you expect to capture the plate.
- The horizontal viewing distance at the location of the plate.
4. Horizontal Distances
- Both the camera location distance and the horizontal viewing distance can be accommodated by using a camera with a “manual zoom lens”. The manual zoom allows you to mount the camera and then zoom the camera’s field of view in or out until the maximum horizontal distance is achieved.
- Utilization of 2.8 to 12mm lens will allow you to mount the camera 60 feet away from the plate location and still achieve a horizontal field of view of 18 feet.
- The maximum horizontal distance recommended is a function of which technology you are using. This is because each technology records in different resolutions. For example, the old technologies such as analog CCTV, produce a very low resolution requiring you to have a very small horizontal field of view. Using our new HD technologies, give a much wider horizontal field of view that can be used and still capture clear images of license plates.
Each application is different, based on this information, we recommend you hire an expert to design your security system and suggest the selection of license plate cameras that will best support your business’ need. Invision security can design your company’s system from our onsite visit, accessing your needs and present you a design in our proposal. Let us determine those LPRs viewing distances and you can rest assure that we are designing a security system for you that is safe and reliable.
There are dozens of ways that LPR cameras can help public and private businesses. The value in savings with the solutions alone pay for itself. If you are interested in seeing how License Plate Recognition technology can improve your surveillance system, contact us at Invision Security today for a free consultation. We can provide you the very best protection for your property, install a professional alarm system. It will allow you to track, monitor and record everything that happens around your building and grounds, so you’ll never be caught unaware by criminal elements.