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PIPS Tech Automated License Plate Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement

PIPS Tech Automated License Plate Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement

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Published by: AxXiom on Feb 24, 2010
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Automated License Plate Recognition 1Automated License Plate Recognition Technology in Law EnforcementAnthony AbdallaSouth Pasadena Police Department
Tony Abdalla is a police sergeant with the South Pasadena Police Department in Southern California. In histwentieth year with the department, he has researched, implemented, and managed numerous technology projectsfor his agency. This paper was prepared as part of his continuing education at Union Institute and University. He canbe reached at tabdalla@ci.south-pasadena.ca.us.
Automated License Plate Recognition 2
Automated License Plate Recognition Technology in Law EnforcementIntroduction
Technology enhancements in the law enforcement field have greatly impacted the waylaw enforcement agencies do business. From handheld fingerprint readers to computer forensicsoftware to digital in-car video systems, technology advances continue to revolutionize andautomate many core legacy processes in the field of law enforcement. At a patrol level, there isno law enforcement process more fundamental than that of police officers checking licenseplates for wants and/or warrants. Advanced technology is now in place to greatly assist officerswith the license plate checking process that is truly global in its use.Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology (also known as AutomaticNumber Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology in the United Kingdom) automates a core lawenforcement process that traditionally has been left between police officers in the field and policedispatchers in a communications center. Officers no longer need to communicate a license platevia police radios to dispatchers, or typed into their mobile data terminals, in order for the plate tobe checked against various criminal databases. The proven license plate recognition technologyexists to automate the license plate checking process and thereby increase the efficiency andaccuracy of law enforcement agencies worldwide.New technologies employed by law enforcement occasionally stir public debate basedupon the nature and function of the technology. ALPR technology is not unique in this respectand has created controversy among privacy rights advocates surrounding the collection, use, andretention of the data that the systems capture. A lack of consistency among law enforcementagencies in the management of this data contributes to the controversy. As the technology
Automated License Plate Recognition 3matures and the use increases, it’s reasonable to assume that these issues will be resolved on anational, if not global level.HistoryIn 1992, ALPR technology was developed at Cambridge University in the UnitedKingdom in response to terrorism (Gaumont & Babineau, 2008). On April 10, 1992, the IrishRepublican Army bombed the Baltic Exchange, a British company operating a premier globalmarketplace for shipbrokers and charterers, partially destroying the façade of the Exchange’soffices and extensively damaging the rest of the building (Baltic exchange, 2008). Almost a yearlater on April 24, 1993, the Irish Republican Army detonated a truck bomb at Bishopsgate, theheart of London’s financial district (1993 Bishopsgate bombing, 2008). The bombing wasmassive in size and destroyed several buildings with many others suffering shattered windows.The blast caused approximately £1 billion in damage, killed one person, and injured 44 others.In response to both bombings and as a deterrent to further attacks from Ireland, the U.K.government erected what is commonly referred to as the “ring of steel” surrounding the City of London (Ring of steel, 2008). The ring of steel consists of physical barriers, checkpoints, andsurveillance cameras that direct drivers into chicanes, forcing them to slow down and berecorded by closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) (Ring of steel). By 1996, ANPRtechnology was fully implemented into every western U.K. port to read every license plateentering the country from Ireland (Gaumont & Babineau).The United Kingdom continues to be the leader in the implementation and use of ANPRtechnology. The U.K now has a mature network of CCTV cameras utilizing ANPR technology.Since March 2006, most roadways, town centers, ports, gas stations and London’s congestioncharge zone have been covered by CCTV cameras running ANPR software. Existing cameras in

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