Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) first became popular as a technology for car park access and management, but more recently it has come into its own when it’s deployed as part of a security solution for business parks and campuses.
Many business park operators will be drawn at first to the cost savings, since ANPR removes the need to have a manned static guard at the entrance to a site. But that is not the only benefit. From an operational perspective, ANPR saves time by allowing traffic to pass through a site with minimal friction.
And from a security perspective, a good ANPR system will have powerful hot list and reporting features that can flag unauthorised vehicles or, together with CCTV, can flag suspicious activity at a premises or business park.
A replacement for static manned guards
ANPR is ideally suited as a replacement for a security guard stationed at the entrance to a site. Normally, a visitor to a business park would arrive at the entrance, stop at the barrier, and tell the guard what company they are visiting. The guard would then record this information and give directions to the driver if needed. They would also stop unwanted visitors from entering the property.
Automating this process greatly speeds up the time for authorised employees and visitors to pass through, which can avoid delays in busy sites where hundreds of cars or trucks might pass within a day. On one customer site that Sharp Group manages, the system is a combination of ANPR, an automatic barrier, CCTV cameras and IP intercoms.
The ANPR scans vehicle registration plates and checks them against a known list. Employees of companies based there are automatically granted access, and the barrier lifts to let them pass. For less frequent visitors to the site, such as a delivery van, for example, the driver is patched through to Sharp Group’s remote control room. This way, there is full visibility and traceability for all traffic into and out of the site.
There is a double cost saving for the business park management company: the intercom communication and the video footage is sent to the control room over internet protocol (IP), so there’s no need for the business park to run a phone line to every entrance and pay for ongoing line rental.
Replacing a static human guard with an automated system also saves on employee costs and the investment pays for itself within just 18 months.
While barriers obviously help to keep out any unauthorised visitors, ANPR is also suitable for sites that prefer to have open entry and exit. In this case, if there is a security incident, a good ANPR system will have a partial search facility that lets you input part of the registration number, such as 162 KE, and it will narrow down the list of vehicles to show only those with matching number plates.
Hot lists and reporting features
Site operators can also create hot lists of known suspicious vehicles, so if a car or van that’s been previously flagged appears at the site, the system generates an alert and the security provider can despatch a mobile patrol if needed. There is constant communication with the control room.
The reporting feature in ANPR is also useful if a management company or site operator needs to show evidence to the Gardai, such as the number of times a particular car visited the business park.
Reporting also has benefits beyond just security; it accurately determines the levels of traffic into and out of the site on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The operator of a retail park could use data showing a change in traffic to discuss revising rent rates with tenants.
The rapid payback of ANPR will naturally appeal to many business parks or campus sites, but its usefulness as a management tool makes an even stronger case for investing in automation.