Commercial & Home License Plate Cameras
License plate cameras, which are commonly called license plate capture cameras and license plate recognition cameras, may be exactly what you need for peace of mind. Whether you’re installing a complete security system at your home or your business, an LPR camera can help you monitor traffic in and out.
What is a License Plate Camera?
An automatic license plate reader is a camera device that belongs in any well-rounded security solution. Your security camera expert can fix the device wherever necessary to scan the license plates on every car that crosses a certain point, whether that’s in or out of a secure facility, a parking lot or even your own driveway.
These cameras are designed with built-in software and hardware that enables them to capture plate numbers for later identification. These cameras typically feature high-resolution sensors to accurately scan for letters and numbers. You’ll often find them as part of commercial security systems, HOA neighborhood security systems and personal home security systems.
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Important Technical Specs for IP Security Cameras Used for Capturing License Plates
If you don’t need a camera that can immediately scan and interpret license plates, IP security cameras that have high enough resolution can capture license plate numbers when they’re zoomed in. However, IP security cameras can only do this if they have an adequate number of pixels per foot, or PPF, and if they have an adequate horizontal field of view.
A PPF of 40 is the benchmark; cameras typically need at least that to capture license plate numbers. Most experts recommend 50 to 60 PPF for clear, legible quality. In most cases, the minimum resolution necessary to accurately read license plates is 1080p – but 1440p or 4k UHD is better, because you can enlarge those images significantly without losing clarity.
Any camera you use to capture license plates must have an adequate horizontal field of view. Horizontal field of view refers to the width of the image a camera can capture.
License Plate Recognition Cameras
License plate recognition cameras are different from standard cameras used to capture images of license plates. LPR cameras are far more high-tech – and they use a blend of high-def cameras and special optical character recognition software to capture and identify the characters on license plates. Optical character recognition, or OCR, is the electronic conversion of characters inside an image into encoded text.
These types of cameras are capable of taking an image, sending it through OCR software for interpretation, and then checking the text from the image against a database. Law enforcement professionals use systems like these to track specific vehicles – but they’re not the only ones. Many businesses also use them to restrict access to certain areas; security officials or automated gate systems can deny access based on OCR results.
With the right system in place, unwanted vehicles are barred from entry, while allowed vehicles are allowed through. Administrators can even receive instant alerts when a flagged vehicle attempts to enter a property.
Capturing Publicly Available Information
Privacy concerns generally top the list of questions we get about using license plate recognition cameras.
Fortunately, because license plates are displayed publicly – and because it’s perfectly legal for anyone to write down a license plate number or check it against a list – there’s no risk of doing the wrong thing.
While only law enforcement can access private information associated with license plates, such as names and addresses, license plates only provide public information that you’re free to use as you wish.
Who Can Benefit From License Plate Cameras?
You can use a license plate camera in nearly any location, adding an extra layer of protection to the spaces you care about most. They’re often used in parking lot security systems, college campuses, church campuses, hotels, gated communities and private residences.
Can IP Cameras Read License Plates? LPR Cameras Versus License Plate Capture Cameras
Standard IP cameras can – depending on their specifications – capture the text on license plates. However, they’re not able to scan images for text or interpret that text, or to compare the text to a database.
License Plate Security Camera Installation
License plate security cameras require expert installation – they must be set up properly in order to work effectively. Your security camera installation expert will consider:
• Camera vantage points
• Vehicle speed when traveling past the camera
• Software and database use
Camera Vantage Points
A license plate recognition camera only works as well as it’s configured – and one of the most important factors in license plate capture is the camera’s vantage point. Your installer will determine the best angle, location and distance from vehicles based on the type of camera you’ve chosen and your intended purpose. From a technical aspect, most LPR cameras should be angled vertically less than 30 degrees and horizontally less than 15 degrees; other angles could distort the text or, worse, the text could be blocked by a vehicle’s bumper (particularly if it’s on a large vehicle).
Your installer will gauge how fast vehicles will likely be traveling when setting up your license plate security camera. Generally speaking, a vehicle moving less than 5 miles per hour provides an easy read for most license plate cameras – often even in adverse weather conditions. More advanced cameras can work better on vehicles moving faster.
Software and Database Use
Installing a license plate reader camera also involves creating a system for video and image uploads or a cross-referencing database. Your camera installation company will talk to you about your goals and establish a system that works for you.
LPR Camera Integration With Existing Security Systems
LPR cameras are an important part of a well-rounded security system, and they can work hand-in-hand with other security measures you’re taking. Your surveillance solution might include motion-detecting cameras, continuously running (and recording) devices and standard security measures, such as fencing and alarm systems.
Do You Need to Talk to an Expert About a License Plate Recognition Camera?
If you need to talk to an expert about creating a robust surveillance system that covers your business or your home, we’re here to help. Call us today to learn about our integrated design approaches, products and services.