Parking Garages Improving Safety With Video, LPR and Video Analytics

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Parking Garages Improving Safety With Video, LPR and Video Analytics

There is good reason that parking garages and lots have typically posted “Park at Your Own Risk” notices through the years, disclaiming responsibility for break-ins, thefts, etc. Historically, these facilities have been favorite locations for car thieves and vandals, who knew their chances of getting caught were, in most cases, quite low.
Few parking areas have the proper video surveillance solution in place. Cost often becomes a key factor when implementing such a system, but many operators of parking facilities now view mitigation of liability and public safety concerns as more important criteria.
The Efficiency Factor
From this more progressive viewpoint, license plate recognition (LPR) and a more robust video surveillance platform become integral to parking facility security. Video surveillance today has evolved far beyond grainy pictures and jerky movement.
Today’s high-resolution cameras provide excellent imagery and seamless motion; as such, the video recording solution should be able to take advantage of the improved video quality.
Higher-quality video results in a more empowered video management solution, resulting in better informed staff and more proactive results. Video analytics such as multi-zone motion detection or vehicle counting can be implemented.
These can result in the prevention of vehicles entering or parking in prohibited areas, detection of vehicles driving in the wrong direction, and even the ability to access the occupancy of a facility. Type-of-vehicle detection can be tied to revenue systems to detect, cars, SUVs or trucks.
Technologies such as these have an immediate impact of ROI from many facets, including a loss prevention perspective, revenue enhancement and more streamlined billing, as well as a reduction of liabilities.
The more advanced video solutions also integrate with revenue and parking management systems to offer a unified solution to the facility management.
The game changer for parking facilities is License Plate Recognition (LPR), often also referred to as automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). Traffic in and out of parking garages can be improved with LPR. For garages where permits are required, the system can recognize the plate number so that the vehicle can enter and leave at will.
Regular customers and VIPs can have additional services available to them when their license plate is detected. Time and use can be efficiently recorded using LPR, as can the use of reserved parking slots. Optionally, even matching license plate numbers with the car can be implemented.
In metered city parking lots and on-street parking, LPR can be used to spot scofflaws and permit and time-limit infractions. Temporary parking permits can be purchased via cellphone with the plate number linked to the permit.
With the meter systems and plate numbers linked, vehicles equipped with LPR can be automatically alerted to violations as they make their rounds. Tickets can be issued instantly.
Such overall efficiency means less need for manned patrols as automation does away with the cumbersome chalk-marking of tires and the need for enforcement personnel to go meter by meter checking for violators.
In “Safe City” initiatives, video surveillance and LPR, as well as other video analytics can all work together to ensure the overall well-being of the city and the parking public. For parking garages and lots, this means that alerts can be programmed if the individual or vehicle in question enters the area.
Such automation and intelligence keep both the public and law enforcement personnel safer, and mean more efficient use of patrols, because control rooms can monitor problem areas at will and dispatch officers on as-needed basis. In this way, not only is safety improved, but budgetary constraints can be adhered to as well.
At the same time, care must be taken to ensure that such improvements in security are not overused, or deployed in ways that violate basic privacy norms.
To that end, it is important, depending upon the situation, to grant clearance only to certain authorized individuals to view certain footage, and even then only when security concerns warrant it.
Systems can be set up with just such restrictions in place, in the same way that law enforcement must have legitimate legal grounds to access private information of individuals, conduct searches of private property, etc.
Better Technology Reduces Incidents
The implementation of these technologies has an impact not only in solving crimes, but in actually reducing the rate of such incidents. Word spreads quickly when perpetrators are apprehended for vehicle break-ins, and theft, or robberies and assaults, because a combination of LPR and video surveillance can work to expose their identities.
Garages and lots equipped with such technology have lower rates of crime.
Just as the word spreads among the criminal element, it spreads among consumers, who will far prefer a safer facility in which to park their car.
In other cases, it helps to solve crimes. Recently, at a U.S. mall, a gang of assailants approached a couple as they walked to their SUV in the underground garage and demanded they hand over the keys to the vehicle. As the confrontation progressed and the man attempted to shield his wife from the men, he was shot and killed.
A combination of video surveillance and LPR allowed law enforcement to track down the assailants almost immediately. The fear and concern that might have spread otherwise among shoppers was contained because the suspects were tracked down so quickly.
The Road Ahead
The need for automated, highly intelligent security technology will only increase over time as users come to expect more overall features and benefits from the security solutions they purchase. Video documentation of incidents is coming to be the norm, and this includes parking garages and lots.
As smarter, more comprehensive security solutions become more in demand, it will be the rare parking facility that will be without such advantages as video surveillance, license plate recognition and other video analytics solutions.
Just as the modern world has come to rely on its smartphones, it has come to expect more from security technology. For parking facilities, this means the ability to use technology not only as a forensic crime tool (to help solve crimes after the fact), but also to send alerts to prevent incidents, as well as increase the overall efficiency of their operations.
Contact Suranjan Ray, VP of Strategic Alliances at Intelligent Security Systems, at sray@isscctv.com.
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Suranjan Ray
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