Implementation of a distributed license plate reading system based on image analysis.
The movement of motor vehicles is an important part of social life and the organization of public space. The high dynamics of changes and processes in this area poses great challenges for organizing infrastructure, forecasting relevant trends and, above all, managing traffic safety.
One such challenge was faced by the Regional Police Headquarters in Bialystok, and with the aim of raising the level of security in the Podlaskie region, with the help of EU funds we jointly implemented a task under the project “Improving detection activities in the fight against crime” implemented under the INTERREG V-A LITHUANIA-POLAND program.
Based on the expectations and needs of the Bialystok Police Department and our technological experience as a contractor for the task, a distributed system for reading and analyzing license plates in the Podlaskie region was created. Using technology, the system has become a valuable source of information and has allowed the unit to operate more efficiently in the field.
The main executive element of the system are specialized cameras equipped with advanced image analysis operating directly on the device. Such a solution makes each camera point an autonomous subsystem, making the system more resistant to critical failures. The cameras are equipped with IR illuminators for optimal operation also in night conditions. Each camera point is equipped with a power supply system that ensures adequate backup time in case of mains power failure, and allows the use of power available periodically, e.g. from street lighting operating only during specific night hours. The construction of such a point with a hybrid power supply gives much greater possibilities for localization of analysis points and reduced the time and cost of implementation, compared to a traditional installation with a permanent power supply. In addition, the camera point is equipped with a control and measurement module that allows, among other things, to manage the power supply of individual devices or to read the environmental parameters of a given camera point, such as the status and voltage level of the power supply, the level of battery charge or the temperature of the devices.
The camera points operate autonomously, but for data correlation and report generation it is necessary to transmit information to a central server. For this purpose, LTE wireless communication provided by one of several available operators is used. Due to the nature of the transmission medium itself and the rules and conditions set by the operators regarding the volume of data transmitted in a given unit of time, the camera points do not send continuous video, but only metadata and optionally images recorded at the time of reading.
Central to the entire system is a system of servers recording and storing data collected from all camera points, where great emphasis has been placed on the availability and adequate protection of the data against failure of physical devices. The software managing the system allows a free search of the database by date, location or content of the registration number, as well as verification of the reading against the recorded image. The system has also been equipped with mechanisms for notifying the operator in the event of detection of a vehicle with a registration number included in the wanted list. The notification is sent in an SMS message to a pre-designated phone number within seconds of detection.
As part of this task, a mobile point has also been set up in the form of a car equipped with specialized equipment that allows operational activities to be carried out from 4 cameras at once, making detection independent of the possible location of the vehicle’s parking. In such a critical case, the data from the work period will be saved in a local buffer and transferred to the data center once connectivity is restored.
After the implementation of the distributed system for reading and analyzing license plates, the efficiency of the actions taken by the Provincial Police Headquarters in Bialystok has increased, by providing the relevant officers with reliable data in the shortest possible time, which has translated into improved safety and increased efficiency in fighting crime in the Podlaskie province.
We invite you to watch a video of the implementation: