What Are ALPRs and How Do They Work?

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The improvement of tracking technology has allowed more common methods of tracking, some of which have become controversial subjects. Issues range from companies tracking purchases to apps tracking locations. One particularly controversial topic is the government tracking license plates.
The employment of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) has recently become a topic of discourse. Jerry’s compiled everything you need to know about ALPRs and their various uses.

What are ALPRs?

Two rows of license plates of various states displayed diagonally.
ALPR technology can read license plates with incredible accuracy
Automatic license plate readers were invented to assist police cars with improving the rate and accuracy of monitoring streetcars connected with criminal activities. Technology has improved the readers to be able to accurately read 98% of vehicle license plates in the last decade, according to Police1.
While this technology was created to be able to quickly catch criminals, the police have been storing the information for decades. Within the past few years, the technology has been placed into consumer's hands, allowing anyone to begin tracking the license plates in certain locations for various reasons.

What’s done with ALPR data?

The high-speed cameras work by constantly photographing license plates. The images are then processed and stamped with the date, time, and location. Alerts are sent to the police officer immediately if the license plate is flagged for any reason. Then, the data is securely stored for future use or disposal.
Some police companies have decades of tracking information on file. Others carry the information for a shorter amount of time and destroy it if the plate was not tagged.
Consumer collected data is different. Insurance Business America reports that plates may be tracked for insurance fraud purposes, gated residences, and gaining access to facilities. The information can be stored by the consumer or destroyed after a short time. There are limited laws that dictate what consumers can do with license plate information obtained in this way.
The controversy over the use and storage of the license plate data is simple. People do not like their privacy invaded. To some, their location is a private matter and should not be recorded by the government or any private company.
On the other side, there are those who feel safer knowing they can use the technology to track down missing or stolen vehicles.
The ACLU has been advocating since 2012 to control the data that ALPR obtains. They are requesting that the devices only be used by police, irrelevant data not be stored, and citizens must be able to obtain data on their own vehicles.

How are insurance companies using ALPR technology?

Insurance companies are paying for the data provided by the ALPR units to prevent insurance fraud. With major differences in coverages related to parking locations, it is helpful to have a tool that can see where a vehicle is parked overnight.
The tracing technology can also reduce crash fraud, as it can track the date and time of vehicle damage compared to reports. Tracking license plates can also help detect mileage overages for limited mileage insurance compliance, while also helping the customer receive lower rates by providing proof of accidents, mileage, and parking conditions.
Even though automatic license plate recording is still a controversial topic, there are considerable points to both sides of the argument.
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