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The “Secret Sauce” For City Surveillance

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The “Secret Sauce” For City Surveillance

Reposted in part from, read the full article here to learn more.

Deterring crime is important to everyone, especially government officials. Learn how license plate recognition technology is the “secret sauce” for successful city surveillance.

The constant presence of crime in our communities, coupled with the more recent threat of terrorism, has made citywide video surveillance an increasingly desirable tool for many municipalities. Indeed, such security measures have been deployed in foreign markets for many years, a prime example of which is London’s famous “Ring of Steel,” which was established in the early 1990s as a deterrent against attacks by the Irish Republican Army.
In the U.S., adoption of citywide video surveillance systems has been a slower process; however, it is on the rise. While large cities like New York and Chicago have implemented well-publicized deployments of sophisticated and costly systems, the advent of inexpensive IP video technology has made city surveillance possible even in smaller metro areas such as Dubuque, Iowa; Buffalo, New York; and Savannah, Georgia. Some of these cities’ systems are geared toward security, others toward curtailing crime, and still others toward traffic safety. They all have a couple things in common. One, they provide extra eyes for law enforcement personnel, who, dedicated as they are, can’t be everywhere at once. And two, they record what they see, providing invaluable forensic evidence in cases of traffic accidents or criminal activities. The video is HD-quality and digital, which means that it is stored on high-capacity servers instead of the banks of VCRs that were typical in the early days of video surveillance.
As useful as all of that is, there are still limits on these systems’ effectiveness. Although the stored video is easily accessible, a police officer may have to manually scan through hours of video to find the recording of a particular incident. Also, if a crime is committed on video by an individual that is already wanted by law enforcement, the perpetrator may be long gone before police officers are even alerted to his presence. More is needed to truly maximize what citywide video surveillance can do. The system needs to be able to help law enforcement and security personnel by automatically extracting and analyzing data from video, and cataloging it for instant access. In short, those extra eyes need a brain.
License plate recognition (LPR) can be the most important component of an “intelligent” citywide monitoring system. The creation of inexpensive and flexible software-only LPR-based analytic solutions means that any citywide surveillance system, even one already in place, can now be modified to extract and analyze license plate data from video. No longer is LPR restricted to mobile vehicle-mounted units that detect license plates and run them for active warrants. Now, with fixed-location cameras at every intersection in town, a surveillance system can automatically detect and run plates, as well as document vehicle movements citywide and recognize suspicious patterns of behavior.

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