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The Rundown on License Plate Cameras

If you have installed security cameras around your business, you probably have good reason. You may have placed them inside and outside the building in an effort to capture nefarious activity, should it occur. While there are many types of crime that persons could perpetrate on you, your business, or customers; discovering and eliminating the perpetrator is the central focus to resolving the problem.

Inside, color cameras with proper installation, good resolution, adequate capture rate, strategic placement, adequate video storage, and quality video review software all go together to meet the need. Camera systems have come a long way from the days of grainy B/W video with low resolution, but video taken outside your business can be a bit tricky. Actually, it can be down-right challenging. Not only is strategic camera placement important in order to record video in the most likely places a crime might occur, but lighting, weather conditions, and pestilence must also be taken into account. This blog will focus on something specific. Something that most business owners haven’t yet begun to take into consideration when posting video cameras outside their facility.

​License plate cameras

There are cameras specifically designed to capture vehicle license plates, known as "LPR" cameras. A standard camera may get an image of the license plate, but can't be trusted to deliver a good image of the plate. A license plate camera is designed to insure a good capture even in the worst conditions. These focus primarily on the license plate in a very limited area (where the license plate passes the camera view). They limit or...block entirely; headlights or other lights from the vehicles, and compensate for weather conditions, and motion blur associated with speed. These cameras work with the reflectivity of the plate using infrared technology.

Scenario: A bandit pulls up in front of your business, they exit their getaway vehicle and enter your business, wonder around looking for a place to hide from the cameras they assume are there, waiting for an opportunity to commit mischief. Or maybe they’re desperate and want something more. They want to cause harm. This is a whole different level of mischief. In either case, they’re probably hoping to get away, not to be caught or found.

That’s where your security video comes in. The cameras outside your building capture the car, the perpetrator walking in, around, and committing the crime. Then it captures them leaving the building, getting into their car, and driving away. With good video, many times the description that follows can identify the make, model, and color of the getaway car. This doesn’t; however, help to reveal who the car is registered to. This detail can be crucially important to discovering who committed the crime.

That’s where license plate cameras come in. Generally speaking, security cameras have gotten very good at color images, working well in moderately adverse conditions. This is a function of both the camera and software. But; normally, they aren’t set up specifically to capture images of vehicle license plates. License plates are difficult to read for a few reasons:

  • Most are reflective, so glare interferes with a clear camera image (especially at night).

  • License plate numbers are small relative to the detail normally sought after from a security camera.

  • They are often in motion so they are difficult to capture due to angle, distance, and speed.

  • Cars aren’t always routed into a specific Entry/Exit path, therefore the angle of the image, or completeness of the license plate in the captured image prove to be unhelpful.

Addressing these items one at a time includes:

  • The security camera should be designed and calibrated to reject license plate reflectivity. (special camera capabilities)

  • The camera should be located properly.

  • The camera should have a motion detection feature that will set it to operation when appropriate to capture a license plate. (for vehicles in motion, rather than parked)

  • The business owner should be conscious of traffic routing into and out of the business. (This may be with the assistance of a security camera installation professional).

Many businesses have begun routing traffic into and to and out of their perimeter by adding concrete curbing to their lot. This helps with traffic control and security, but it also helps with regard to capturing license plate data as cars visit their property. Most already know when the “right” people come on to their property, but with preparation, they also have a much greater chance of knowing who the “wrong” people were who came to visit.

1PointUSA is ready to help you define the best strategy to address this concern. To discuss the specifics of license plate cameras and their application, please contact us.

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