One technology perfectly suited for minimizing perimeter security threats is Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR). This technology uses license plates—the only visible, unique identifier on any given vehicle—to identify and help classify vehicles.

An organization can use ALPR to support perimeter monitoring and access control initiatives before a person even gets out of the car. ALPR scans and records license plates with a level of accuracy and speed far exceeding the human eye’s capability, saving valuable time and freeing up security staff for other priority operations.

When ALPR was initially introduced more than 30 years ago, the cameras were somewhat challenging to transport and conceal. The system relied upon the same closed caption display sensors as camcorders and closed-circuit television cameras.

Since then, ALPR cameras have evolved to become much more sleek and user friendly. Infrared illuminators have replaced closed caption display sensors, allowing the cameras to detect license plates and capture images day and night and in almost any weather condition.

A pivotal point for ALPR technology came with the development of wireless Internet connectivity, which allowed for the addition of online functions in remote locations including the ability to mount and use in vehicles. Immediate transmission and comparison of captured license plate images against pre-determined lists also became possible.

Recently, a major shopping mall management company teamed up with local law enforcement to use ALPR cameras on the mall’s security patrol cars for more effective parking lot monitoring.

Each mall security patrol car is equipped with a touchscreen monitor and two ALPR cameras on the roof. The ALPR system automatically begins collecting license plate data as security guards patrol the parking lots. To avoid liability, local law enforcement servers collect all of the information directly.

Law enforcement only is alerted when the mall security cameras detect vehicles on law enforcement “hotlists”—such as lists of wanted felons. Conversely, on-site security guards only receive alerts from license plates on the mall’s own hotlist—which could include patrons or former employees no longer permitted on the premises.

With law enforcement officers and mall security guards working together, distribution of resources is efficient and effective. The use of ALPR has improved the malls’ and local law enforcement’s ability to deal with a variety of issues—everything from car burglary to a mall shooting—while also monitoring and collecting data that helps quickly identify and diffuse security situations.
ALPR provides this mall management company a proactive and affordable approach to perimeter security. Shoppers can rest assured knowing the mall is using technology to create a safer space.

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