Video surveillance has progressed a lot in recent years. With newer video analytics being developed, more and more features are added to security cameras that improve security, provide more insights and help keep track of activity. One such development is the License Plate Recognition feature that has been seen on modern cameras. This blog talks about LPR cameras and their usage.

What are ANPR, ALPR, LPR camera?

ANPR, ALPR, and LPR cameras are all terms used for the same thing LPR camera that can read and detect license plates. Although they use different names and abbreviations, they all have the same technology. LPR cameras are Automatic Number Plate Recognition or Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras.

  • ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition): This is used mostly in European countries and some Asian as well.

  • ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition): This is used mostly by North Americans, particularly in the United States.

  • LPR (License Plate Recognition): This is generally used interchangeably with the rest of the terms to denote any cameras that can read license plate data.

Regardless of the specific acronym used, the underlying technology remains the same. They all involve capturing images of license plates and using optical character recognition (OCR) software to extract and interpret the characters on the plates for various applications.

How do LPR camera work?

LPR camera systems are equipped with high definition cameras positioned and zoomed to where the vehicle license plate will be. These cameras are designed to work in various lighting conditions and at different angles.

  • When the vehicle passes by, a high-resolution image is captured of the license plate.
  • The images are then sent to a server or a cloud platform, where OCR software analyzes the pixels and converts them into text.

  • The text can then be compared with a database of license plates, such as a blacklist or a whitelist, to identify vehicles of interest.
  • The system can also trigger actions based on the results, such as opening a gate, sending an alert, or generating a report.

Regardless of the specific acronym used, the underlying technology remains the same. They all involve capturing images of license plates and using optical character recognition (OCR) software to extract and interpret the characters on the plates for various applications.

Key Components of an LPR Camera System

An LPR system typically consists of the following components:

  • LPR cameras: These are the devices that capture the images of the license plates. They can be fixed, mobile, or quick deploy, depending on the use case. They can also have different features, such as infrared illumination, high resolution, or wide dynamic range, to enhance the image quality and accuracy.

  • OCR software: This is the software that analyzes the images and converts them into text. It can be embedded in the camera, installed on a server, or hosted on a cloud platform. It can also have different capabilities, such as reading multiple plates, recognizing different formats, or supporting different languages.

  • Database: This is the repository of license plates that the system compares the text with. It can be a local or a remote database, depending on the security and accessibility requirements. It can also have different categories, such as a blacklist or a whitelist, to classify the vehicles based on their status or purpose.

  • User interface: This is the application that allows the users to interact with the system. It can be a web browser, a mobile app, or a desktop software, depending on the convenience and functionality preferences. It can also have different features, such as live video, historical data, or analytics, to provide the users with more information and insights.

Types of LPR Cameras

LPR cameras can be classified into three types based on their mobility and installation:

  • Fixed LPR cameras: These are the cameras that are permanently mounted on a pole, a wall, or a ceiling. They are ideal for locations that require constant monitoring, such as parking lots, toll booths, or gated communities. They can provide high-quality images and reliable performance, but they may require more wiring and maintenance.

  • Quick deploy LPR cameras: These cameras are temporarily installed on a tripod, a vehicle, or a battery pack. They are ideal for locations that require flexible monitoring, such as special events, temporary checkpoints, or construction sites. They can provide quick and easy deployment and removal, but they may have lower image quality and shorter battery life.

  • Mobile LPR cameras: These are the cameras attached to a moving vehicle, such as a patrol car, a motorcycle, or a drone. They are ideal for locations that require dynamic monitoring, such as highways, streets, or remote areas. They can provide wide coverage and mobility, but they may have higher costs and complex setups.

Primary Purpose of LPR Camera Systems

LPR cameras can serve various purposes depending on the needs of the business or law enforcement. Some of these are:

Security Enforcement

LPR cameras are used by law enforcement to identify and track vehicles of interest. This can help solve crimes, and in ongoing investigations, specifically for car thefts and other associated criminal activity. They are also used by border patrol to track and monitor vehicles crossing over to identify threats based on an existing database.

Parking Management And Access Control

LPR cameras can improve the efficiency and convenience of parking operations by automating the entry and exit authorization of vehicles, enforcing parking rules and optimizing parking space utilization. They find applications in gated communities, corporate parks and other secure facilities.

Toll Collection

They are also used on highways and toll booths to automate toll collection without the need to stop for billing.

Environmental And Congestion Charging

Some LPR cameras are used to monitor traffic for congestion pricing and environmental zoning restrictions, where vehicles are charged based on emissions and traffic congestion levels.

Law Enforcement And Public Safety

LPR cameras can assist the law enforcement agencies in enforcing the traffic laws and regulations, identifying and locating wanted or stolen vehicles, and tracking and monitoring suspects or persons of interest.

Revenue Generation

LPR cameras can generate revenue for the owners or operators of a location by charging fees for parking, tolls, or fines, or by selling the data or insights to third parties.

Places Where LPR Cameras Are Used

LPR cameras can be used in a wide range of settings where license plate recognition is beneficial or necessary. Some of the common settings are:

  • Commercial: LPR cameras can be used in commercial settings, such as shopping malls, hotels, Drive-throughs or airports, to provide security, convenience, and customer service to the visitors and customers.

  • Residential: LPR cameras can be used in residential settings, such as apartments, condos, or gated communities, to provide security, privacy, and access control to the residents and guests.

  • Industrial: LPR cameras can be used in industrial settings, such as factories, warehouses, or ports, to provide security, inventory management, and logistics to the workers and managers.

  • Government: LPR cameras can be used in government settings, such as schools, hospitals, or military bases, to provide security, safety, and compliance to the staff and students.

  • Public: LPR cameras can be used in public settings, such as roads, bridges, or parks, to provide security, traffic management, and law enforcement to the public and authorities.

Challenges with existing LPR camerasa

Some of the common challenges when deploying LPR cameras are the following:

  • Reading Accuracy: LPR cameras may not be able to read license plates accurately due to various factors, such as poor image quality, bad weather, dirt, glare, or damage. This may result in false positives, or missed detections, which may affect the performance and reliability of the system. They can also be affected by vehicle speed and differences in license plate design which throws the recognition software off.

  • Privacy Concerns: LPR cameras may raise privacy concerns among the public, as they collect and store personal and sensitive data, such as vehicle location, time, and owner information. This may pose risks of data breaches, misuse, or abuse, which may violate the privacy rights and expectations of the individuals.

  • Software Licensing and Compatibility: LPR camera software is often licensed and may cause issues integrating with the rest of the security systems, for instance, cameras and access control devices.
  • Regulatory Compliance: LPR camera may face regulation challenges from different jurisdictions, as they may have different laws and policies regarding the use, retention, and sharing of the data collected by the system. This may create confusion, inconsistency, or conflict, which may affect the legality and compliance of the system.
  • Unforeseen Costs: LPR camera may incur high costs for the owners or operators of the system, as they may require expensive hardware, software, and maintenance. This may affect the affordability and profitability of the system.
  • Database Management: LPR systems work on and maintain a license plate database that can be tough to maintain and take up storage. This also leads to security concerns since databases are prone to data breaches and cyber attacks.

Considerations For Implementing An LPR Camera System

LPR camera systems can vary in terms of features, capabilities, and quality. Therefore, it is important to look for the following aspects when buying or choosing an LPR camera system:

Image Quality

LPR camera systems should have high-resolution cameras that can capture clear and sharp images of the license plates, even in low-light, high-speed, or wide-angle situations. The cameras should also have features such as infrared illumination, wide dynamic range, or image stabilization, to enhance the image quality and accuracy.

OCR Accuracy

LPR camera systems should have advanced OCR software that can analyze and interpret the images and convert them into text, even in complex, noisy, or distorted situations. The software should also have features such as multiple plate reading, different format recognition, or different language support, to enhance the OCR accuracy and speed, to enhance the OCR performance and reliability.

Database Integration

LPR camera systems should have seamless integration with the database of license plates that the system compares the text with. The database should be updated, accurate, and secure, and the system should be able to access, query, and update the database in real time or near real time, depending on the application and network availability.

Fuzzy Matching

Some LPR camera systems fail to recognize characters correctly. It is better to look for cameras that return the best matches as opposed to exact ones even when an instance is not found in the database. Modern LPR systems “fuzzy match” characters to return the closest match even when characters are not recognized or captured properly.

Angle, Distance And Location

When installing LPR cameras, instead of having a large field of view, it is better to have a single “choke point”, which is a zoomed in area focused by the camera to return the highest quality image. This is specific to gated areas like parking lots, toll booths, drive-throughs where the vehicle passes through a specific pathway.


LPR camera systems should have reasonable and affordable costs for the owners or operators of the system, considering the initial investment, operational expenses, and maintenance fees. The system should also have features such as cloud storage, wireless connectivity, or solar power, to reduce the costs and increase the efficiency of the system.

LPR Camera Systems In Canada

Looking to install LPR cameras in Canada? Spotter Security offers design, installation and maintenance for security camera systems to keep you secure. With over 20 years of experience and expertise in the security industry, Spotter Security knows your business and how to secure it. Contact Spotter Security today to get a security consultation to see how you can secure your business using LPR cameras.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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