A video camera that records everything round the clock at a parking lot can be as useful as a security guard there, but not moving even when a ‘vehicle of interest’ cruises in.

In most of the cases, the footage comes in handy for a post-event analysis, unless, of course, the security staff keep watching the display monitors as keenly as Air Traffic Control staff monitor aircraft movements.

Though a few software packages have been developed in Europe for Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), most of them are unsuitable for Indian conditions, nor are they within the reach of Indian business houses in view of the exorbitant cost of the software and hardware.

Moreover, these packages, totally dependent on cameras, can only capture the images of vehicles moving past the camera. In effect, the user gets a video footage and nothing more.

Real time alert

This is where Sensen networks, an Australian company co-founded by Hyderabadi Subash Challa, filled the gap, unveiling its low-cost video-analytics solutions, which can not only grab the registration number of a vehicle from video footage and also turn it into a database.

If it matches with the list of ‘wanted numbers’ of vehicles of interest for security agencies, the system will also generate an alert in real time.’

Robust algorithm

“The software would grab three or four frames of the registration number from the video footage, convert the number into text and include it into the database along with the time stamp,” says V. Ajaya Kumar, Director of India operations of Sensen networks.

The algorithm is so robust that it can recognise different fonts and backgrounds on number plates, so common in India. Security agencies generally supply a list of numbers of ‘vehicles of interest’ to business establishments, which should inform them if these vehicles come to their places. “In such scenarios, the real-time alert can be of great help.”

While the ANPR systems developed in Europe function only on the reflective number plates while using sophisticated video cameras, the India-specific system developed will be of great use at malls, railway stations, bus stations, airports and toll plazas, says Mr. Kumar. “Most of the APNR systems installed across the country can provide only video footage of vehicles.

Minimising pilferage

These systems cannot turn the number plate on video into text.” At toll gates, this system will help to minimise pilferage, while at airports, real-time alerts are of immense help in the emerging security scenario.