Verticalization of ALPR technology
Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 1/17/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner
While concerns of economic difficulties and budgetary constraints linger, more and more ALPR solution providers are looking to deliver better services and business models with higher ROI. a&s explores how this change of focus is helping them enter new markets and scale new revenue heights.
There have been a couple of suppliers who have essentially had to close their businesses, as a result of customers' budget cuts, Jim Kennedy, President of Inex/Zamir, observed. Many solution providers have, thus, diversified their offerings to cater to different needs. Previously, ALPR was thought of as a security measure, but now, this technology can be utilized to generate more income and simplify management tasks. "Whether for gate control, inventory control or parking management, ALPR represents a key investment with quantifiable returns," said Charles Cousins, MD of APAC at Genetec.
Despite austerity measures in certain parts of the world, many burgeoning megacities are not slowing down with infrastructural development. "Traffic safety systems are fairly common, and if anything, demand at the government level is growing, not shrinking," said Durairaj Gireraj, Director for APAC at Axxonsoft. Though suppliers have explored other vertical segments, demand in the government sector remains steady.
In government applications, "traffic management and safety programs are really picking up steam," Gireraj continued. In some cases, ALPR can pay for itself and generate additional income in the long term, especially with projects where the technology allows for cost reductions, flow improvement and automatic fare/violation payment collection.
Traffic monitoring checkpoints in Austria, the Netherlands and Spain, for example, use ALPR for speed enforcement. No radar is required because the cameras in use capture every license plate and calculate the travel time between two set points. If the calculated speed is 10 percent or more above the speed limit, the system automatically issues a ticket. By deploying similar systems, not only can authorities cut personnel and fuel costs in issuing traffic violation tickets, but they can also increase revenue by increasing coverage points and distances.
Although government budget in general may not be what it was years ago, "we still see that market continuing to consume as ALPR becomes a valuable crime-fighting tool," Cousins said. Reading up to 3,000 plates per minute, ALPR can check against a database for vehicles of interest, such as drivers with expired registration tags, revoked licenses or warrants for violent crimes, and then notifies nearby officers. Police departments have noticed a huge spike in tickets, arrests and revenues as a result.
Due to its strong ROI, parking-time management is currently one of the fastest growing markets, outperforming many other applications. The ALPR market in EMEA showed a slight decline in 2011, but the parking segment increased by 4.1 percent. This technology helps parking lots drive revenue by identifying and charging vehicles that stayed overtime. Simultaneously, it frees up parking spaces for new customers, thus driving retail sales as well.
In 2012, Genetec integrated ALPR, video surveillance and access control systems into one platform. The platform not only allows end users to view live video streams, but also lets them control the cameras, configure aspects of their access control and ALPR system, and run reports from Web browsers. "The needs of this market are more than just reading a plate. Parking management is a world of its own, with its own nuances," Cousins reminded.
Ticketless parking is another possibility. "The result is a clean management system that delivers a completely seamless and pleasant experience for customers," said Nick Parker, MD of Sensor Dynamic. Ticketless parking obsoletes printed tickets, thus removing problems such as lost tickets, swapped tickets or traffic congestion from exit lanes.
An evolving business model now involves solution providers approaching large retailers to provide the systems free of charge, in exchange for a percentage of their revenues. This commission-based model has been well-perceived by those who might have originally been doubtful of the technology or who are limited in funding for initial installation.
As many industry sources noted, the logistics industry also has huge demand for ALPR. Integrating ALPR into the monitoring systems of logistics companies ensures that vehicles do not disappear and certain rules are followed on site. "Vehicles have to go through several stations in the correct order; you have to monitor this process to avoid spoilage and product loss," Gireraj said.