What Is ANPR, And How Is It Used?

There are now numerous ANPR systems on UK roads and car parks, but how many people know what ANPR stands for and how it works? Automated number plate recognition, or ANPR for short, is a technology for reading number plates on vehicles and providing their locations to interested parties. Scanners or cameras take the required information, which can be used as a reference point for both law enforcement, traffic enforcement and business users such as car parks. We thought we would dig deeper into ANPR and provide you with some information about how it works and some people and organizations who have incorporated ANPR into their business operations.

 Who Uses an ANPR System

ANPR is used by both law enforcement agencies and private companies for a variety of purposes. Police use it to help solve crimes and track down wanted criminals. Private companies use it for things like monitoring employee comings and goings, managing car parks, and controlling access to gated communities. Local authorities use it to enforce parking regulations and collect tolls. And the Department of Transport uses it to monitor traffic flow and help plan infrastructure projects. ANPR systems are now often used by hotels and large supermarkets to help monitor parking and to ensure that they can record people coming and going from their parking area thus preventing unauthorised visitors. Airports are another place you may see an ANPR cameras to help ensure waiting times and parking regulations are strictly observed.

So, What is an ANPR System, and How Does it Work?

With ANPR, a number plate image is converted into a machine-encoded text, a process known as optical character recognition. As a result, CCTV cameras in city centres, traffic enforcement cameras, and cameras designed specifically for ANPR can use this technology. To ensure that the cameras capture a clearer and more recognisable image, infrared illumination is often used. ANPR can be used in conjunction with existing close circuit television cameras and traffic enforcement cameras.

What is the Role of ANPR in Traffic Management

Highways England uses approximately 1,100 cameras at around 500 locations to calculate journey times and assist with traffic flow.  The new smart motorways are equipped with ANPR cameras that control traffic flow through the different speed limits. The number plates of vehicles travelling along that part of the motorway are read by the camera and converted into non-unique identification numbers, known as a tag. Each time that number plate passes through an ANPR camera operated by Highways England, the same tag will be generated. By cross-referencing the tags, Highways England are then able to calculate journey times and regularly update motorists about any delays.

How Cameras Are Used for License Plate Recognition

How is ANPR Used in Car Park Management

Today, ANPR technology is used in many private and public car parks. As a result, the payment process, visibility of spaces, and use of the car park becomes easier and more convenient for customers. As a result, drivers will have a better parking experience and the car park will operate more efficiently and cost effectively for the owners. On entry and exit, number plates are read, and accurate recording is made to determine how long drivers have been in the car park. Furthermore, ANPR cameras can be used to allow cars to leave and return to the park at any time during the payment period. In addition to reducing staff requirements on site, ANPR cameras eliminate the need for mobile parking patrols.

Although there are other uses for ANPR cameras, the ones we have outlined above are the core ones, and hopefully they have provided you with a better understanding of why and how they are used.

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