Innovations in ANPR and the benefits of a trusted partnership

28 June 2021
Steve Clift, Convergint, talks about a relationship with Axis based upon high levels of professionalism and shared values, and explains how ANPR solutions have evolved.

How long has Convergint been in operation?

Convergint is a global, service-based systems integrator which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary since opening its Chicago-based headquarters in 2001. Following a recent round of acquisitions, Convergint now has 195 office locations globally, with over 5000 staff. In addition to being listed as the number one systems integrator in SDM Magazine's Top Systems Integrators Report for the past 3 years, Convergint was also awarded 2020 Integrator of the Year and Financial Market Partner of the Year by Axis Communications at its Axis Connect and Converge Conference (ACCC). The Axis award recognised outstanding strategic partnership qualities, proven technical aptitude and front-running sales performance.

What are your thoughts on the partnership with Axis? How has this benefitted your business?

As a global company, we pride ourselves on listening to our clients’ needs and responding quickly, wherever they are based. One of our original Values and Beliefs is to ensure we are our customers’ best service provider – this is something that still drives our business today. To do this effectively, we only partner with providers who offer the highest quality security technology and are true experts in their field. At Convergint, we have a strong foundation of Values and Beliefs, on which our entire company is built. It’s essential to us to work with like-minded businesses. Axis Communications ticks all the boxes in terms of the quality of its solutions and the core values around which it bases its business. Axis was also the company that first adapted IP technology in the video surveillance market, so they are absolutely leaders in the physical security space.

How is Convergint helping to revolutionise the use of number plate recognition technology?

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology typically uses a purpose-built, dedicated camera system. This has inherent cost implications to keep running, and because of a lack of any real push to develop the technology, it has missed out on the advancements that the rest of the industry has enjoyed. A benefit of our global presence is that we are able to look at the application of security technologies across the world, making comparisons to determine how various tools are currently used and how they could be improved. In the case of ANPR, we were able to look at how police forces were using the existing technology to determine what was working and what wasn’t. Our findings revealed that drastic improvements were needed. This resulted in Convergint bringing the advancements of IP network camera technology into the ANPR market.

Can you elaborate on the use of network cameras for ANPR and summarise the benefits?

Traditional ANPR cameras are used because of their accuracy and read rate. They capture car number plates successfully, and then use 3/4G and landline comms to send data back to the police headquarters for processing; this is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. The big difference here is that Axis cameras have the processing speed that was only available in ANPR cameras, hence the step change.

Axis’ network cameras have now evolved to the extent that they are more than capable of replicating this accuracy, making them ideal for ANPR purposes. Their significant processing power means they can also analyse video using onboard software, speeding up the relaying of information by sending only relevant snippets of meta data back to base. The Axis cameras, combined with high-performance number plate recognition software, results in a powerful IP solution which is fully digital and totally mobile. The advances in 4G & 5G comms as well as the ability to transmit images via Wi-Fi results in fast and efficient data transmission while the system can run from a battery that provides up to 10 days of continuous power without the need to recharge.

How will this system improve operations and are there plans for future development?

Axis cameras breathe new life into what was essentially a very one-dimensional solution, capable of delivering limited results. As the cameras are designed on open standards to be connected to other devices and systems, this introduces the potential for greater situational awareness by bringing further cameras and sensors into the equation. For example, consider a busy city where a criminal drives at high speed through red lights, putting pedestrians and other road users in danger. The ANPR solution can collect car number plate and speed data from the vehicle as it passes, but now other cameras, connected to the same system, can provide additional data. This results in a wider and more overarching view of the entire situation, providing the police with far greater detail than an ANPR system alone. In terms of future plans, we are currently in negotiations with police to establish further trials in the UK which, once complete, will allow us access to multiple government frameworks and a wider roll-out of the technology for the benefit of more police forces.