Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) - What is it?


It’s difficult to imagine a world without license plates. What started as homemade “nametags” for cars in the 1900s have become a government-mandated requirement for all vehicle owners. License plates hold lots of information, and we now have the technology to make sense of a series of randomized (or occasionally customized) numbers and letters.

ALPR, aka Automated License Plate Recognition, is the process of capturing license plate information. ALPR software takes a picture of a license plate and collects real-time information, often to identify a vehicle. For organizations like police departments, city governments, and vehicle-related industries, ALPR technology can provide information and insights that help optimize communities and processes. 

What License Plates Say

What License Plates Say

(Various state license plates, istock)

License plates are registered numbers that are recorded by states and shared with federal governments. Registration information tied to license plate includes owner name, address, related county, state location, and other identifying information. Vanity license plates can also share information about hobbies, passion projects, or sports teams. 

While information may be possible to ascertain from a license plate, it doesn’t guarantee accuracy. Addresses or owners may have changed and plates not kept up. Vehicles may have been bought or sold and the proper plate is on the wrong vehicle. So while license plates provide lots of information, it doesn’t guarantee a full picture of car ownership. 

Key Challenges

It’s easy enough to take a photo of a parked vehicle, but the nature of cars makes capturing license plates more challenging; they’re made to move around! The hurdles to take a clear, legible image keep coming when you consider driving on crowded roads, at night time, or at a fast speed.

Additionally, with so much variation in license plate formats and car varieties, collecting accurate, real-time information can be difficult–let alone information that can be used to pull key insights from. 

One interesting example is vanity plates. There are so many options for vanity plate customization, and these options can even vary by state. Background images behind license plate numbers can cause reflections that make it difficult for cameras to read the numbers and other key information. Dirt and damage to license plates only make it more difficult to accurately capture the plate information; throw special characters in the mix, and you have even more of a challenge on your hands.

Understanding the ALPR Market

ALPR capabilities are important to various organization for unique reasons, but no matter what a specific business needs, key considerations of the software always include:

  • Price

  • Speed

  • Accuracy

  • Geographies covered

  • Image requirements

  • Derived data points


ALPR+ is a perfect storm of the above components; at a competitive price with additional data points collected with every image, organizations can quickly and accurately collect license plate information from a single solution.

Sighthound ALPR+ stands out from other ALPR solutions in more ways than an extra symbol. So what does the “plus” mean? It comes down to four words: make, model, color, and generation (MMCG for short).

Standard ALPR software will collect information on just the license plate. ALPR+ goes beyond license plate collection; MMCG capabilities means more data points are collected per license plate–and that increases the confidence rate in vehicle identification. 

Sighthound ALPR+ (License plates, make, model, generation, color)

Sighthound ALPR+ (License plates, make, model, generation, color)

Want to learn more? Schedule a demo or contact our team to see how ALPR+ can meet your business needs. Request a free trial today to see what the plus is all about.


ALPR Software ROI by Industry


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