The rise of ANPR Parking Enforcement… and what is its future?
26 June 2019 •
This article looks at the reasons for the growth in the use of ANPR for parking enforcement over the last few years. It then goes on to look at what the future uses for ANPR may be.
What is ANPR?
ANPR stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition and is a system that uses high-resolution cameras and sophisticated software to read the number plates of vehicles. One of the main uses of this data is to enforce parking contraventions. By monitoring entry and exit times for a vehicle it can establish whether the motorist has paid for their parking or outstaying the maximum free parking limit. For more information about how ANPR systems work, read our article, What is ANPR?
Over recent years, private parking companies have increasingly started to turn to ANPR technology to solve their enforcement requirements. Some of the reasons for this include:
- ANPR cameras are fairly easy to set up and once set up provide consistent data which can be passed directly onto a parking enforcement application.
- ANPR systems have relatively low operating costs.
- ANPR also reduces the need to employ as many on-site enforcement staff.
- The technology is now sufficiently advanced in that ANPR systems can, typically, deliver around 90% accuracy when reading number plates.
And ANPR technology has been further enhanced through improvements such as intelligent or “fuzzy” matching of misread number plates. It does this by automatically presenting “near miss” variations of a vehicle’s number plate. Since the fuzzy match will also include details of the make, model and colour, administration staff can easily select the correct number plate from the list. Fuzzy matching can increase the rate of positive matches to close to 100%. ZatPark’s ANPR checker offers fuzzy matching and has been redesigned to make the process of checking ANPR reads quicker and more effective. Learn how it works in our article, Advanced ANPR Checker.
Wider uses of ANPR systems
There are a number of other uses for ANPR technologies.
Advanced Parking Management
As well as using ANPR for parking charge notices, they are now being used in busy car parks. ANPR systems can be used to monitor the use of each parking space, providing the parking management owner with real-time information on how many free spaces there are. It can also help to ensure that motorists don’t drive around car parks in search of a space. In fact, some car parks are able to direct vehicles to free spaces.
It can also help to monitor contraventions within the car park, such as:
- Drivers who park carelessly
- Parking in a disabled bay.
- Monitoring Electric vehicle bays to ensure they are being used appropriately.
Automated and Online Payments
And now ANPR is being used, not just for enforcement but is starting to be a key part of automated payment applications. These applications link a customer’s VRM to a payment method. It will use ANPR to calculate your payment based on your parking period.
Many organisations now use ANPR to monitor access to their company car parks. The ANPR camera system will grant access to their car parks by checking that the car number plate is on a permitted “whitelist”. A typical use case would be where the number of allocated parking spaces for a business is not sufficient for the number of staff/users.
Looking to the Future
There is no doubt that cashless and online payment services are replacing many traditional payment methods. These apps aren’t at risk of being broken into to obtain the cash contained in them. It also allows a motorist to pay for more parking without the need to rush back to the car park to buy another ticket. With the increasing use of ANPR as part of an ever more integrated parking management, payment and enforcement network, use of ANPR is only set to increase over the next few years and beyond.
Currently, local authorities are barred from using ANPR cameras in any of the on-street or off-street parking sites. Looking further ahead, the Smart City initiative, which is attempting to use big data to increase wellbeing and productivity of cities, is likely to utilise ANPR technology in its parking and traffic management activities.
There is little doubt that ANPR systems will continue to become increasingly common in the parking industry. To get the best out of your investment in ANPR technology, you will need to ensure that it is integrated with high-quality parking enforcement software. This will allow you to take advantage of the powerful productivity benefits to the parking enforcement company, both reducing costs and improving efficiency.