Security Breach

Security Breach

Unique solution for enhanced perimeter security

As professionals in the commercial security industry, our ears perk up whenever we hear of a security breach—such as recent perimeter control issues at airports, the White House, and other government and public locations. Preventing these types of occurrences can be a huge challenge and a significant concern— because physical entry can give an intruder access to more than just servers and hardcopy information.

Thankfully, there are technologies that organizations can take advantage of to be better prepared for the chance of intrusion or physical attacks.


One technology perfectly suited for minimizing perimeter security threats is Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR). This technology uses license plates—the only visible, unique identifier on any given vehicle—to identify and help classify vehicles.

An organization can use ALPR to support perimeter monitoring and access control initiatives before a person even gets out of the car. ALPR scans and records license plates with a level of accuracy and speed far exceeding the human eye’s capability, saving valuable time and freeing up security staff for other priority operations.

When ALPR was initially introduced more than 30 years ago, the cameras were somewhat challenging to transport and conceal. The system relied upon the same closed caption display sensors as camcorders and closed-circuit television cameras.

Since then, ALPR cameras have evolved to become much more sleek and userfriendly. Infrared illuminators have replaced closed caption display sensors, allowing the cameras to detect license plates and capture images day and night and in almost any weather condition.

A pivotal point for ALPR technology came with the development of wireless Internet connectivity, which allowed for the addition of online functions in remote locations including the ability to mount and use in vehicles. Immediate transmission and comparison of captured license plate images against pre-determined lists also became possible.

For a commercial entity, wireless connectivity allows ALPR to send external triggers to external devices such as access control gates or even alarms and notification systems. This becomes an invaluable tool to security directors and officers tasked with the difficult job of monitoring access and keeping those that may present a threat out of the vicinity.

In addition to an infrared image of the license plate, ALPR cameras also generate a color image that can assist in identifying a vehicle make and model. For companies with close relationships to local law enforcement—such as large mall complexes or theme parks—these capabilities provide valuable detail to agencies investigating crimes.

In fact, most people perceive the primary use of ALPR to be from law enforcement to help solve crimes, but companies in a variety of industries are using this sophisticated technology to address security challenges.


Recently, a major shopping mall management company teamed up with local law enforcement to use ALPR cameras on the mall’s security patrol cars for more effective parking lot monitoring.

Each mall security patrol car is equipped with a touchscreen monitor and two ALPR cameras on the roof. The ALPR system automatically begins collecting license plate data as security guards patrol the parking lots. To avoid liability, local law enforcement servers collect all of the information directly.

Law enforcement only is alerted when the mall security cameras detect vehicles on law enforcement “hotlists”—such as lists of wanted felons. Conversely, on-site security guards only receive alerts from license plates on the mall’s own hotlist—which could include patrons or former employees no longer permitted on the premises.

With law enforcement officers and mall security guards working together, distribution of resources is efficient and effective. The use of ALPR has improved the malls’ and local law enforcement’s ability to deal with a variety of issues—everything from car burglary to a mall shooting—while also monitoring and collecting data that helps quickly identify and diffuse security situations.

ALPR provides this mall management company a proactive and affordable approach to perimeter security. Shoppers can rest assured knowing the mall is using technology to create a safer space.


In today’s day and age, it is not enough to have one point of security and access control at the front desk. Companies must validate admittance at the first point of entry vehicle parking.

When the corporate security team at one of the world’s largest credit card companies identified perimeter vulnerability with its physical corporate locations, ALPR turned out to be the best solution.

With an operation of this magnitude, it was important that the process be efficient, and not create an extra step for employees or authorized guests. The ALPR solution replaced a cumbersome keypad system and resulted in greater efficiency and security.

The credit card company uploaded a list of authorized names and corresponding license plates to its server. When an identified employee vehicle drives up to one of the site’s nine entry points, the camera nearly instantaneously captures an image of the license plate and compares it to a list of plates on the company’s approved “whitelist”.

If the plate is on the whitelist, the ALPR system signals the security gate to open. This provides the company with the ability to chronicle all license plates for a specific location and a record of everyone entering and leaving the premises.

Employees and guests at this location can have peace of mind knowing there is an additional layer of security and perimeter surveillance, without any additional steps or inconvenience.


There are many ways ALPR can protect a company’s physical location. Before choosing a system, it is important to conduct a full perimeter security assessment and establish clear goals and objectives for your ALPR program. For example: do you want to capture only the license plate image, or the driver’s image, as well?

Contacting an ALPR dealer is a great way to begin the process of identifying if this technology is right for your organization and determine what options and products are available to fit your needs. Companies interested in using ALPR to strengthen perimeter security should look for a system that:

  • Provides license plate images that are up to standard
  • Incorporates appropriate auditing controls
  • Can be integrated with local law enforcement systems to reduce data storage liability
  • Provides reporting capabilities to facilitate on-going usage transparency
  • Offers a dedicated representative to assist with training and implementation

Location of the camera is critical. Choosing the right location will help ensure the camera has the longest possible exposure time, helping improve accuracy and avoid blurred images.

ALPR can be an effective tool in a variety of applications, providing accurate and timely information that allows users to make quick and wellinformed decisions. Forward-thinking companies who recognize ALPR’s potential as a perimeter security solution can realize increased security and efficiency as a result.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Security Today.


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