Have you noticed that folks are driving around with a newly designed license plate? Georgia’s new general issue license plate incorporates uses a “digital” or flat design, meaning it doesn’t have raised numbers and letters. Flat plates are cheaper to make and can even be mailed —no more waiting at the county tag office, hooray! But, flat plates also mean “easier identification by Georgia law enforcement.”
Not to sound paranoid, but this “easier identification by Georgia law enforcement” is all about ALPR: An Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) is an image-processing technology police use to identify vehicles by their license plates.
It is a special form of Optical Character Recognition and most systems use infrared lighting that allow a camera to take a picture at any time of day.
There are many applications for ALPRs such as traffic and parking management, tollbooth operations and area-access control. One of the fastest growing applications by law enforcement agencies to identify persons or vehicles whose license plates are connected to a crime or infraction. Cameras, mounted to police vehicles or stationary structures such as gates or bridges, automatically take photos of license plates at the rate of hundreds per minute. The plates are compared to law enforcement databases of registered vehicles known to be or suspected of being involved with crimes or infractions.
If a license plate that was read matches an entry on a database, the license plate reader system will alert the officer (if the ALPR system is mounted to a police vehicle) or command center (if the ALPR is mounted at a bridge, traffic light or tollbooth) that a “suspect vehicle” is in the immediate area of that LPR system.
ALPRs are being used in Georgia and in many other states. It is likely that plates are being compared to both state and national databases. Hello, Big Brother.
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