The science behind the force.

November 5, 2015 3M Canada

Police car siren

How Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) is helping law enforcement make Canadian streets safer

Thanks to a helpful technology, those who are scheming to get away with driving a stolen vehicle may not make it very far.

In fact, it may be harder than ever for unlawful drivers to escape without notice, as technology from 3M – called Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) – is helping Canadian law enforcement officers to make the streets safer.

What is it?

Used by law enforcement agencies across the globe, 3M’s ALPR technology uses infrared colour cameras and special recognition software to read licence plates at a rate of over 1000 vehicles per hour, even in the dark or in extreme weather conditions.

ALPR cameras can be installed so they are fixed or mobile, and are used for a wide variety of applications worldwide, but for law enforcement, ALPR is often mounted right onto police vehicles.

How it works

Platefinder firmware continually searches the ALPR camera’s field of view for the presence of a licence plate. If one is detected, a dual lens camera will capture both colour and infrared images of the vehicle and plate. A high-quality photo is created with the camera’s Triple Flash Technology, which varies the flash, shutter and gain settings in order to get the best picture possible.

But the engine behind ALPR is technology know as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which enables printed characters to be recognized and turned into data. 3M has developed its own library of OCR engines, which can be customized specific to a state, province, region or country and can recognize various plate sizes, syntax rules and designs.


Keeping an eye out to ensure public safety

By referencing licence plate information against law enforcement databases, ALPR can help police to identify plates associated with (but not limited to):

  • Stolen vehicles
  • Unlicensed drivers
  • Uninsured motor vehicles
  • AMBER alerts
  • Warrants
  • Accused persons
  • Missing persons
  • Individuals of special interest

The Law enforcement officer makes decision on appropriate action

If an alert is prompted, ALPR technology records the image of the vehicle, licence plate number, date, time and GPS coordinates of the vehicle as well as the type of alert. Then it is up to the officer to decide what action to take.

3M is a recognized leading force in ALPR technology

Because of its ability to provide timely and accurate information, the use of ALPR technology around the world is rapidly increasing and 3M systems are providing positive results. With over 20,000 cameras deployed around the globe, 3M is recognized as a leading provider of traffic related video imaging and licence plate capture technology.

Learn more about 3M ALPR technology.


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