Automatic License Plate Recognition systems (ALPR) comprise of specialized cameras that detect vehicle license plates associated to whitelist or blacklist databases, while alerting operators to matches. ALPR is regularly used to automate permit and time-limit enforcement, scofflaw identification, gated access control or stolen-vehicle and wanted-felon identification, forgoing the resource-constraining manual processes in parking or law enforcement applications. Interesting enough, the benefits of ALPR don't stop there. The increased efficiency and accuracy offered by ALPR serve so many other creative applications.
In this short Q&A, Brett Wood, Parking & Transportation Consultant at Kimley-Horn, a Genetec partner and independent consultant, talks about the company's experience using ALPR to offer more accurate and cost-effective data collection and help their customers optimize parking facilities and operations. For more in-depth information on the application, read their results from this interesting field study in this white paper: "Advanced icense Plate Recognition Data Collection".
1. Why is data collection important to your customers? What were some challenges your customers were facing?
The way the parking industry is evolving, data is becoming highly important. For our clients, data collection offers pivotal insight into parking occupancy, parking duration, parking frequency, traffic counts or vehicle destination tracking. The fact is, extra parking can cost anywhere from $5,000-$40,000 per space, so if inaccurate data is collected, there is a chance our customers could spend a lot of extra money on parking they don't need, or not plan for enough parking which creates a problem in the community. That's why people are using sensors and data collection technology— they want to get a better idea of how their parking facilities are being used to make more informed decisions on operational improvements and management. But there is a huge challenge— the manual data collection process is time consuming and expensive, and our customers don't have the man power to go out and do it themselves on a regular basis. Leveraging ALPR, we worked with Genetec to ensure we could offer a more cost-effective and efficient approach in collecting the right amount of accurate data for clients.
2. In your opinion, how does ALPR contribute to better results?
First, it's more efficient. There's a customer we had worked with previously, where the manual process of collecting vehicle occupancy data took about 5 days. With AutoVu, we collected the same data in 1 day. We can collect more data, a lot faster, with less people. Secondly, the manual data collection generally involves writing down numbers and then manually transcribing that information for reporting in our Park+ software. AutoVu allows us to record that data instantaneously in reports that we can pull from Security Center. There is a time savings there, but also better accuracy and less human error. Finally, it's not just about occupancy. With ALPR, we can also get duration data (how long a car is parked somewhere), traffic collection data (how many cars come in and out in a day), and so much more. So the technology itself serves to collect so a lot of different data simultaneously.
3. What should customers know in undertaking this data collection process themselves using ALPR?
Using ALPR for data collection of parking facilities is an excellent tool. So if a customer is already investing in ALPR technology anyways for scofflaw and parking enforcement purposes, there is a good chance they can use it for data collection and save themselves a great deal of money instead of using sensors or video analytics, etc. which can be very expensive. There are obviously some costs with ALPR, but a customer can defer those cost between data collection and the enforcement/scofflaw applications, using the technology for multiple purposes, which is very rare in our industry.
For more information about Kimley-horn, please visit: www.kimley-horn.com/parkplus.