How Do ANPR Cameras Improve Traffic Flow? The Three Best Ways

ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology can make traffic flow smoother and safer. The three best applications of the technology for improving traffic flow are:Traffic control – monitoring and controlling traffic for a variety of purposes, such as limiting the number, or the number of vehicles in a particular section of a smart city, around historic sites, or on bridges or tunnels.Speed control – With faster cars and easier-flowing roads, speed can get out of control. Drivers often don’t realize how fast they are driving. Keeping their speed under control is a major factor in reducing highway mortality rates and is a key function of ANPR. The same technology can integrate red-light violation monitoring.Toll collection – Removal of toll plazas from highway landscapes has yielded many benefits, including aesthetics, traffic flow ad safety. It also freed up manual toll collectors to do more productive work.We’ll elaborate on each of these areas.

ANPR Cameras in Traffic Monitoring

In your travels, unless you move in very rural areas, you’ve certainly been affected by ANPR cameras in one way or another. You’ve probably had your license plate number recorded or your speed measured. These cameras monitor traffic flow for many purposes, mostly related to traffic safety. You’ll often see traffic monitoring cameras mounted on tall poles or gantries above the highway.

Main Functions of Traffic Surveillance Cameras

First, the camera incorporates a sensor to determine if there is a vehicle in its view. If there is, the camera is “triggered” to capture an image. In most applications, the camera software also identifies the vehicle. Other simple functions include counting vehicles to measure the traffic load on a specific highway section.

The next level is ANPR, also known in some areas as ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition). Traffic monitoring cameras incorporating this technology are termed ANPR cameras. The technology utilizes OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, technology to recognize the digits and letters on a license plate from a digital image.

Traffic Violation Detection

Some of the most sophisticated cameras can detect speeding and safety-reducing behaviors such as:

  • Solid line crossing
  • Wrong-direction driving
  • Lane-jumping
  • Red-light violations
  • Railway crossing violations
  • Many other types of erratic driving

Speed Measurement and Control

One of the most common types of driver violations is speeding. When one vehicle is moving significantly faster, or slower than the general traffic flow, it’s disruptive. Disruptions cause accidents. So while a slow driver can definitely cause an accident, the more dangerous behavior is driving faster than the general flow. In an accident caused by excessive speed, risk of injuries and fatalities is much higher than in other types of accidents.

ANPR cameras specifically designed to measure speed can also be easily programmed to monitor traffic flow, identify congestion, and flag other types of disruptive driver behavior.

Various technologies, such as radar or laser-based speed measurement can be used. ANPR cameras that function as part of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) can measure average speed over a road segment – helpful in identifying congestion and removing “choke points” so the congestion doesn’t occur. Adaptive Recognition’s powerful traffic data back office system, the Globessey Data Server (GDS), can report average speed or section speed between two measuring points.

What Type of Installation Works Best? Fixed, Portable, or Mobile?

In the case of a fixed ANPR camera, the installation is designed to be long-term. The camera is mounted on a gantry or pole and not intended to be moved, except for maintenance or when long-term goals of the installation change. The Vidar camera is best suited to this type of use.

For a portable camera installation, the units should be compact (no more space than a small suitcase) and allow quick set-up. These cameras can be easily moved from one location to another, or can even be mounted inside a vehicle. The most advanced example we know of a mobile camera is the S1 speed measurement and traffic enforcement camera.

Mobile ANPR cameras are usually mounted in or on a vehicle to scan other vehicles when both are in motion. They constantly scan surrounding traffic and require no manual trigger to acquire an image. A great example of such a camera is at the MicroCAM product site.

Toll Plaza – credit: red-john-7k-o-54prMI-unsplash.jpg

Toll Collection

Remember when you had to stop and hand money to a human toll collector or slow down to a snail’s pace when the first automated payment systems were introduced?

Toll booths and toll plazas, where multiple booths were necessary, tended to become unsightly collectors of trash, car parts, etc. 

The toll booth-introduced “choke points” cause congestion and significant accident potential.

All of this becomes unnecessary now that cameras can identify individual vehicles at normal highway speeds or even up to 300 km/h(185 MPH). Cleaning up highway landscapes and improving traffic flow and safety are major benefits of this capability. Another benefit is the availability of the former toll collectors to do more productive work, as well as the elimination of all the scheduling hassles of employing humans to collect tolls.

The three applications of ANPR cameras we’ve discussed here are probably the simplest, most straightforward and easiest to see value in. These applications affect anyone who drives a car or rides in one unless they live and operate above the Arctic Circle or some such remote place.

There are many other highly specialized uses of these cameras and their offshoots. Some of these uses require that the cameras be integrated with unique databases or software. With such special capabilities, users in different industries can gain information that produces unique insight for their businesses.

To see more of how Adaptive Recognition’s specialized products work for these businesses, and what they can do for you and your vehicle identification needs, read more here. You can discuss your particular requirements through the same link.

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