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4/17/2014
02:30 PM
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License Plate Recognition Technology Branches Out

Law enforcement officials see new security and surveillance uses for license plate recognition technology.

LPR technology to secure government buildings, parking lots, and other vulnerable areas, Chigos said.

For example, when PlateSmart LPR was deployed for security in parking areas during the annual Tampa AirFest show last month at MacDill Air Force Base, the system scanned more than 11,000 vehicles and returned 200 hits, including violations for suspended driver's licenses, expired registrations, and criminal warrants.

The enterprise product, called Analytic Recognition Enterprise Solutions (ARES), adapts the LPR system to any video security system and supports a wide range of surveillance uses. "It's a complete analytical enterprise backend for all data coming out of any of the LPR systems," Chigos said. "It's totally scalable. You can have one camera or 10,000 cameras."

One of the new government users of ARES is Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), the main law enforcement and security agency for the Navy Department. NCIS responsibilities include counterterrorism and counterintelligence functions. PlateSmart officials said the Navy will use the LPR system to secure bases and ports.

Another new enterprise user is Florida's Port Tampa Bay, one of the busiest ports in the US. The LPR system will provide port security officials with constant, real-time data on all vehicles entering and leaving port facilities and help detect suspicious vehicle activity.

Chigos notes that Port Tampa Bay is one of the nation's largest shippers of fertilizer, which can be used in making explosives. He envisions an expanded role for LPR surveillance in preventing terrorist attacks at secure facilities. "The data we generate is not the end all and be all, but it is one important part of the link of data that can prevent things."

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Richard W. Walker is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area who has been covering issues and trends in government technology for more than 15 years. View Full Bio

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Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2014 | 11:11:51 AM
Re: License plates
I agree, while the intended use might be for law enforcement and security, I can see commercial companies being very interested in the technology to use for customer profiling.  For example, if they were able to catch the license plates outside a store, they could generate information on who visits the store, how often, and target marketing to these consumers.  Not only does this teeter on the balance of privacy vs what is valid public information, but it might alter how people feel about how their license plates automatically opt them in for all kinds of unwarranted tagging.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/17/2014 | 4:57:40 PM
License plates
I'd be curious to know what the law says about the public display of license plates. Because if the police can keep a database of license plates, private entities can too. They may not have the backend that identifies the owner of the plate, but that may not be difficult to determine if facial recognition is added. Perhaps license plates should be considered personal information from a privacy standpoint.
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