Remember the days when you had to stop every few miles and pay a toll? Or at least you had to stop when entering or exiting a toll road, bridge, tunnel, or other toll-protected facilities?
Toll booths were unsightly nuisances. They were often sites of heavy congestion and causes of many accidents. In all but a few cases, they’ve disappeared. Where they remain, traffic density is usually so low as to make them a minor inconvenience.
ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) cameras are also known as APNR cameras (APNR standing for Automatic Number Plate Recognition). ANPR is the technology that allows for high-speed toll payment. Other improvements offered by this technology are stolen vehicle (or other criminal perpetrators) identification, automated parking lot operation, flow regulation into congestion-prone areas, etc.
During the last 30 years, these specialized applications of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) have been developed to bring us many benefits you’ll read about. Adaptive Recognition is an industry-leading developer of this technology.
In this article
ALPR Cameras are (Relatively) New Allies in Traffic Flow and Safety Improvement
We’ve already mentioned some of the more visible ways ALPR technology (or in other words ANPR cameras) can improve traffic safety and flow. Here are some other applications of this technology that can make life easier, especially in densely populated areas.
Smart City Uses
Smart Cities are cities that use many kinds of technology to control emissions, traffic flow, accident investigation and other police activities, and of course toll automation.
Low Emission Zones (LEZs)
In LEZs, the number and types of vehicles are regulated. The ALPR technology can be set to identify vehicles emitting high concentrations of pollutants. If such a vehicle enters the zone, its whereabouts can be tracked until authorities can react. If more than the allowed number of vehicles enter the zone, action can be taken to limit further entry.
If there’s an accident, serious traffic violation, or other occurrence demanding police response, the nature of the event and its location can be pinpointed so the authorities waste no time reacting.
This is self-explanatory. Reducing congestion, delays, and the likelihood of accidents are obvious benefits. Emission reduction is a side benefit since there’s less idling time among cars waiting to pay a toll.
ALPR Cameras in Logistics
Improving the flow of material deliveries has many obvious benefits in assuring a comfortable lifestyle and the ready availability of the products we’re accustomed to having in our lives.
Here are some other benefits that may be less obvious.
Reduced Cost for Companies Depending on Timely Deliveries
When trucks arrive on a known schedule, it’s much easier to reduce time waiting for the handling of delivery and reloading the truck with returns, etc. if necessary. If a truck is delayed, that becomes known much earlier and can be investigated.
The shipper of the goods also benefits because they know when to expect the truck to return for reloading, maintenance, or other considerations.
And of course, when any of the elements in the supply chain lower their costs, it benefits everyone.
Less waiting time at loading/unloading facilities results in reduced emissions and reduced highway time. Perhaps if one facility is backed up, deliveries can be rescheduled, and the truck may be able to deliver to its various destinations in a different order.
More efficient scheduling of trucks means fewer trucks on the road, resulting in less congestion as well as lower total emissions.
This article discusses many other ways transportation delays can affect the supply chain.
A Very Specialized Application of ALPR Cameras
The Lasso Ferry company operates a system of passenger and auto ferries between the Denmark mainland and Lasso Island, in a finger of the North Sea. Their schedule allows only about 20 minutes to turn a ferry around in the ports at either end of the journey.
With their old system of manual check-in of passengers and vehicles, they were experiencing delays in the process. In a shuttle system such as this, minor delays in each turnaround can accumulate to back the schedule up by hours at the end of the day. This obviously leaves customers very dissatisfied with the service and increases costs.
ALPR Cameras Provided the Solution
When Lasso discovered Adaptive Recognition’s ALPR cameras and coupled them with an automatic payment system they had what they needed to streamline their system.
The pay-by-plate system they put in place automatically generates an invoice to the owner of the car, identified by connecting the ALPR camera data with a vehicle registry database. For frequent users of the system, it can be set to make an automatic charge to a credit card or bank account.
ANPR-based Access Control at the Lasso Ferry Terminal With SmartCAM Credit Adaptive Recognition
Additional Benefits to the Pay-by-Plate System
Since the ferries spend less time in the ports, fuel consumption is reduced.
Emissions from ferry engines as well as auto engines in waiting lines are all reduced.
The ferry terminal staff, relieved of ticket validation duties, can spend more time arranging cars on the ferry and planning schedules.
Applying the ALPR technology to Laeso’s system results in significantly reduced cost and more efficient operation. The cost savings can be applied to improving system features, or ultimately even purchasing a new ship to further improve turnaround times.
In conclusion, we’ve identified several ways in which OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and high-resolution video can be brought together as ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) to make traffic flow more smoothly and efficiently.
As we’ve seen, this technology can be coupled with all kinds of specialized databases or single-purpose software or hardware to provide benefits in many one-off applications.