Automatic Number Plate Recognition

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While real-time facial or biometric identification of the population remains - just - within the realms of science fiction, our movements by car are now routinely monitored by a variety of technologies deployed to automatically recognise and register car registration plates.

Perhaps the highest profile use - and certainly the one most commonly encountered by most of us - is for the detection of motoring offences. Anyone who has been charged with a speeding offence, running a red light or parking illegally will be familiar with the process. Automated cameras recognise the offence, read the number plate, communicate with the DVLA's database of car owners and either a ticket, fine or summons is issued - almost without human intervention.

More routinely, millions of travellers to London are issued with congestion charge fees as their cars are identified as they enter the city.

Few of us question this huge and growing network of omniscient surveillance, yet - like any technology - it is not infallible. There are many cases in which tickets are wrongly issued, and there are debates about how it can be proven who was actually driving a car when an alleged incident occurs.

It has been reported that the database of images collected by ANPR and stored at the Metropolitan Police's Hendon facility now comprises an incredible 7 billion records.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 21st September 2013 | © Weird Island 2010-2019
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