In Your Line of Sight
Protection, prevention and automatic license plate recognition
- By Erik Reece
- Oct 01, 2015
Terrorist attacks have forever changed the way
we think about security. They revealed a need
for intelligence and federal agencies to work
together, creating the genesis for the Department of
Homeland Security. They sparked a discussion about
not only defending our country, but also preventing
these dangerous situations before they happen. John
Chigos was one of the many people who realized that
America will continue to face terrorist attacks and
will only be equipped to face these challenges if serious
advancements are made in security.
“As it did with so many other Americans, 9/11 destroyed
my sense of the United States being shielded
from violent attacks,” Chigos said. “I could no longer
look at events like this around the world and say,
‘That’s just over there.’ After having witnessed the
devastation of the 1993 World Trade Center attack,
the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and 9/11 in
2001, I wanted to find a way to prevent attacks like
those from happening again.
“More than that, I wanted to deter everyday crime.
It seemed as though I was constantly seeing news stories
about a police officer dead on the side of the road
following a routine traffic stop or about a missing
child. I had to do something.”
One day, after having been run off the road and
unable to capture the perpetrator’s license plate,
Chigos had an epiphany.
“I realized that the one technology that can enhance
counter-terrorism efforts, law officer safety and
child protection is automatic license plate recognition,
commonly known as ALPR,” Chigos said. “My
vision was to start a company whose mission was to
fight crime and save lives by providing the most advanced
ALPR solutions in the industry.”
According to the International Association of
Chiefs of Police (IACP), 70 percent of serious crimes
are tied to a vehicle, so Chigos knew he was headed
in the right direction. He went on to found Cyclops
Technologies Inc., the parent company of what would
become PlateSmart. After gathering research from
around the world, he made a key discovery: ALPR
systems worldwide were camera-specific rather than
Under Chigos’ leadership, company software engineers
developed the world’s first software-only ALPR
and video analytic solution. This groundbreaking,
hardware agnostic functionality distinguishes
PlateSmart from all other ALPR companies. It also
makes PlateSmart’s solutions the most versatile and
affordable products in ALPR.
PlateSmart’s image capture and object recognition
technologies are unparalleled in today’s marketplace.
The company’s software can read any plate in
the United States and differentiate between all state
jurisdictions as well as any international plate in the
world. The software also makes it easy to share aggregated
data, creating better collaboration between
security and law enforcement.
The signature product is Analytic Recognition Enterprise
Solutions (ARES) technology. It is offered
both as a fixed ALPR operation platform and as a
mobile solution that can be integrated into vehicles.
There also is a cloud-based, ALPR subscription for
Time and time again, PlateSmart’s solutions have
been the premier integration choice for video market
trailblazers like Samsung and Pelco. Leading organizations
such as the Naval Criminal Investigative
Service (NCIS) have also deployed ARES to increase
security, regulate visitor entry, and generate leads for
wanted or missing persons.
PlateSmart’s technology has received industrywide
recognition. In 2013, Frost & Sullivan bestowed
the North American Technology Innovation Award
in License Plate Recognition Software Technology to
“When I think about all that PlateSmart has been
able to accomplish over these last few years—all the
lives that have been positively impacted, all the police
that feel safer and empowered to do their job, and all
the criminals that have been captured because of the
information that ARES has delivered—I feel extremely
proud,” affirmed Chigos.
Chigos also has a vested interest in the success of
the ALPR industry and has been committed to addressing
the current challenges that have impeded its
advancement. One of the recent issues the ALPR sector
has faced is the misperception about ALPR and
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union
view ALPR as a technology that invades privacy and
excessively collects civilian information through Big
In response to these claims, Chigos has become a
leading spokesperson on the topic.
“If we want to truly and effectively address the
public’s concerns and create greater trust among the
people, we need to show them that the data ALPR
systems gather is protected. I believe the best way to
do this is to adopt a standard audit feature for all
ALPR solutions across the industry,” Chigos stated.
PlateSmart continues to be on the cutting edge
of video surveillance technology, exploring the integration
of facial capture, audit trail, gunshotspotting
technology, and many others into its solutions.
Chigos’ forward thinking and passion keep
PlateSmart consistently one step ahead of the curve
and drive it to play an increasingly influential role in
the security industry.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Security Today.