What Is ANPR (Automated Number Plate Recognition)

One of the services that 6S Global can supply and advise on is ANPR – Automated Number Plate Recognition. This piece is to give an overview of what ANPR entails, and how it might fit into your organisation’s security needs. 

What does ANPR do?

The system looks at vehicles and reads the number plates. From that information, it can process the identity of the vehicle into a variety of other systems, for instance opening a barrier, or sounding an alarm. The vehicle could be standing still or could be moving at speed. Essentially the ANPR must be able to see the number plates to correctly process the data. 

How does ANPR work?

A camera, or cameras, are positioned to be able to see the vehicles and read their number plates. This sounds simple but requires careful planning. If the camera is looking at a place where traffic regularly queues it may not get a clear sight of the plates. If it is looking across a number of different lanes of traffic one vehicle may block the possibility of sighting another. 


If the system is to work 24 hours a day, illumination will be needed for night operation. This could be an infra-red source. The camera(s) can either be in a fixed position or mounted on a vehicle for mobile use. 


If human processing is required a visual image can be captured in parallel with the image used for ANPR. Similarly, the ANPR process can operate from an image from existing CCTV cameras or can have its own dedicated cameras. 


From the captured image of the vehicle, the ANPR system derives a unit of information based on the registration number. If required this can be translated into a text file for further storage and processing. More simply the information can directly trigger another system, for instance, a barrier control.

Reasons to use ANPR

There are a number of possible situations where ANPR is a helpful solution.

 – Access control

 – Barrier control 

 – Avoiding payment runaway in fuel stations

 – Parking management

 – Additionally, public bodies may use it for:

 – Lane enforcement

 – License enforcement

 – Speed control, and enforcement

Requirements for ANPR

For ANPR to operate effectively and legally certain other elements need to be in place.

 – A suitable camera system, with visual image capability if human processing required

 – Illumination for night time use

 – Unless it is only used as a live trigger for barriers/access, secure storage for the processed data

 – Protocols to ensure the requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) can be met

 – Up-to-date “white list” of permitted users, and or

 – Up-to-date ”blacklist” of forbidden users

How to ensure your ANPR meets GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulations, or GDPR, in Europe, requires that if any personal information is held the subject must be enabled to view and amend that information. This implies that you must be certain there is a demonstrable need to store ANPR data. If that is so, you must have systems in place to potentially allow data subjects to view their data.

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