LPR in the palm of your hand? There’s an app for that
Rekor Systems can put vehicle intelligence in your patrol cars, on your roads, and now at your fingertips via smartphone
Sponsored by Rekor Systems
By Tim Dees for Police1 BrandFocus
Automated license plate reader systems demonstrate their value daily with substantial increases in recovery of stolen vehicles, identification of vehicles associated with wanted persons and generation of investigative leads for crimes not directly related to vehicles.
About halfway into the second decade of large-scale deployment of these systems, we now see the next generation advancement of the technology, refining the applications for mobile platforms as ubiquitous as the smartphone. At the same time, the drop in acquisition cost of LPR brings this technology into new affordability for smaller law enforcement agencies with less money to invest in technology.
Rekor Systems is a leader among tech companies bringing LPR within the reach of small and large agencies alike. Rekor offers multi-mode LPR systems with options providing flexibility, adaptability and scalability that was previously unattainable with any combination of hardware from any vendor. Rekor is one of the few vendors with the capability of running LPR using only a smartphone.
The typical mobile LPR installation uses cameras and a computer installed on a patrol car. The car is either parked at a chokepoint for vehicle traffic, scanning license plates of vehicles passing by, or driven through streets and parking lots, capturing license plate data and comparing the reads against a hotlist of license plates of wanted vehicles.
The cameras are usually mounted on the car’s fenders or light bar, exposing them to harsh weather and damage from vandals. Each one of these installations could cost more than $20,000, placing them out of reach for many law enforcement agencies.
Rekor Scout software
The software that runs Rekor’s systems is called Rekor Scout. Rekor Scout permits users to search its database of recorded license plate images for vehicle manufacturer, color, model, location and direction of travel. It reads and interprets standard, vanity, temporary and paper plates issued by motor vehicle bureaus in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and processes alerts with an average delay of only 10 seconds.
But Rekor Scout is not dependent on data coming solely from Rekor cameras. The software can handle the output from nearly any traffic, security or IP camera, and an open API foundation permits data sharing with other agencies, regardless of which company sold them their LPR system. The software costs as little as $49 per month.
Rekor also brings advanced LPR technology within reach to agencies large and small through a special $100 per month per camera offer. With a 10-camera minimum and a five-year commitment, Rekor will provide Rekor Scout and Rekor Edge cameras allowing any department to easily deploy and scale an LPR program with no complicated set-up, no initial hardware investment and no maintenance fees.
Mobile and mounted camera options
Rekor’s vehicle-based LPR solution, called Rekor Finder, uses high-definition cameras mounted inside the patrol car, secure from damage by weather and bad guys. A typical two-camera setup covers two to three lanes of traffic on each side of the patrol car. A processor module resides in a “black box” that can be moved, along with the cameras, from one car to another as needed, even unmarked or rental vehicles.
The cameras and processor are nimble enough to capture license plate data from vehicles approaching the patrol car at a closing speed of up to 140 mph. The system works in both daylight and low-light environments. The processor module has both Wi-Fi and LTE (cellular data) connectivity, and records each read with a timestamp and the GPS coordinates where the plate was found.
Rekor Edge is a family of mountable ALPR cameras, intended for placement on a building or utility pole. There are three models, optimized for business district and residential neighborhoods, primary roads and intersections, highways, interstates and other remote sites. The cameras capture license plate data from vehicles moving as fast as 120 mph and are equipped with infrared lighting for nighttime use. A solar-powered option is available for installations where hardwired power is not available.
Rekor Trailer is a portable solution equipped with traffic radar and a “YOUR SPEED” display for motorists. The trailer looks similar to radar trailers already in use in many communities as a passive measure to deter speeding. Inconspicuous cameras record license plate data in view, and hotlist hits are immediately transmitted to a remote monitoring point. The trailer comes equipped with a 300-watt solar panel and a battery with up to 15 days of power is available.
LPR on your smartphone
Perhaps the most innovative of Rekor’s LPR products is Rekor Blue, a smartphone-based application designed for law enforcement. Available from both the Apple and Google Play app stores, Rekor Blue operates on most smartphones and can operate without the need for a wireless data connection.
With Rekor Blue, once the app is installed, users download or connect to a hotlist of license plates of interest using their Rekor Blue-equipped smartphone, then use the smartphone’s camera to scan license plates that come into view. The license plate data is extracted from the camera view and compared against the hotlist in real time. The software alerts the user of any hotlist matches without the need to “phone home” and compare the data against a remote hotlist.
Rekor Blue can provide significant improvement to both productivity and safety for officers conducting investigations or on patrol. Plainclothes and undercover officers can use the app to scan plates while appearing to use the smartphone for another innocuous task, continuing their investigations without raising suspicion as to their actual intent.
Automated license plate reader systems and vehicle intelligence have proved their worth as a force multiplier. One officer can monitor multiple traffic lanes and be alerted to the presence of stolen and other vehicles of interest with much greater efficiency than an entire squad of officers might provide. This technology has now come within the reach of law enforcement agencies of any size, especially with the Rekor Blue smartphone app. Free trials offered by Rekor make it easy to test-drive the technology and determine how your agency can benefit from an ALPR program today and in the future.
Visit Rekor Systems for more information.