Automatic Number Plate Recognition has been around much longer than most can imagine. In 1976 the technology was invented at the Police Scientific Development Branch in the United Kingdom, where it was altered, changed, and put into the industry in 1979. The technology was controversial at the time of its release overseas, however it proved to be an accurate and impressive technology, making its first arrest on an individual when it detected a stolen car in 1981.
Understanding how a technology can often be a very difficult thing, however very interesting in learning what makes it work. Automatic Number Plate Recognition utilizes optical character recognition of images that have been taken by a camera. The technology can tweaked, and altered to specific states to recognize font, character length, color, and even down to the spacing in between the characters. Most systems include the use of infrared cameras which allows the cameras to work at anytime during the day and also result in clearer images of license plates. The most recent advance in the realm of Automatic Number Plate Recognition is bringing the technology to mobile units to allow for police officers to scan license plates in less than a second. With a greater understanding of the technology from experience over the years, every aspect of the system has been scaled down including cameras, computers, wiring, and just about every other component that the technology involves. The advances in the technology do not only directly correlate to size; they also have the benefit of increased durability and performance, and can read license plates while driving at speeds of over a hundred miles per hour.
The difficult part of bringing Automatic Number Plate Recognition to mobile units was its efficiency. The technology needed to run off the battery of a cop as well as be able to read license plates of vehicles in oncoming traffic which would result in speeds exceeding a hundred miles per hour. Through faster processors, and greater battery capabilities, this product has been able to be used efficiently and effectively in mobile policing units.
Many departments across the country feared its acceptance amongst new officers, primarily seasoned veterans that had been working in the field for quite some time. According to Lt. Chris Cahal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he found that, “Acceptance has been high and we don’t have to send them (officers) to extensive classes to train them.” He goes on further to say that the systems were, “very...