LPR vs. CCTV Cameras: Are You Covered?

To would-be criminals, a closed-caption TV (CCTV) camera and a license plate recognition (LPR) camera may look the same—and hopefully deter them from committing a crime. But to law enforcement, the cameras’ hardware and software can make a big difference.

LPR cameras are purpose-built to recognize and extract license plate information using advanced optical character recognition (OCR) and image-processing algorithms, while CCTV cameras are general-purpose, typically recording activities in fixed areas. With the majority of criminals using vehicles during the act, LPR technology is a strategic solution for deterring, detecting and investigating crime. 

Image quality between the two types of cameras is another differentiator. LPR cameras are higher resolution and can capture a vehicle’s license plate information from a distance, at speeds up to 120 mph, and in less-than-ideal weather and poor lighting. CCTVs have lower performance, especially at night. 

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“Even the absolute best CCTV cameras are not going to capture the crystal-clear image that an LPR camera will, and of not just the license plate but the vehicle itself,” Jake White, a law enforcement consultant with Insight LPR, said. “Quality matters when it comes to a criminal investigation. A blurry image does no good.”

Insight LPR, an industry expert, uses highly accurate camera technology to capture license plate information on vehicles with a 96 percent capture rate in all conditions. These cameras then process the images and turn them into actionable alerts and data for investigations teams to use. Insight LPR’s capture rates have been tested against all major LPR manufacturers by a third-party testing company and have consistently outperformed other camera manufacturers. 

In addition to offering fixed LPR camera solutions, Insight LPR also controls valuable LPR data collected by a mobile fleet of vehicles covering areas not served by fixed cameras. This data gives law enforcement a much broader and more accurate net.

The time it takes to extract and run information is another difference between LPR and CCTV cameras. CCTV cameras’ video footage needs to be manually reviewed and analyzed while LPR cameras automatically extract license plate information. Insight LPR cameras can capture and report information in less than ten seconds. 

“When minutes count, law enforcement can run their data against our data set that gives them a better starting point for their investigation,” said Insight LPR Chief Revenue Officer Stephen Nethery. “So, in the long run, it gives them better evidence and a better case.”

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