The evolution of technology has accomplished wonders for law enforcement and security. Today, cities are under video surveillance, there are real time face recognition software in place to identify most wanted criminals and terrorists, there’s satellite surveillance and a ton of hardware in place to scan everything from the vehicle number plates to radio frequency identification tags. Automatic number plate recognition has been in place in most cities and highways for a while now. There are some automatic number plate recognition pros and cons that have divided public opinion about their utility and futility.
List of Pros of Automatic Number Plate Recognition
1. Real Time Monitoring & Surveillance
Automatic number plate recognition does away with the painful and tedious process of manually recording the numbers. Very few people can spot the number plates and the exact registration numbers when a car speeds by. When there are multiple cars on the road, it is humanly impossible for anyone to record all the numbers. Automatic number plate recognition systems don’t just record the numbers and have images but they also do so in real time.
2. Still and Video Footage
Not every automatic number plate recognition system has both still and video footage but many do. Some systems are specially designed to take snapshots when a vehicle speeds or jumps a red light, takes a wrong turn or just goes haywire on the road. The stills and video footage can help law enforcement agencies, traffic departments and can also assist legal counsels.
3. Proactive and Reactive Security
Automatic number plate recognition is a deterrent. Those who are serial traffic offenders would resist from breaking the law. The systems also help with reactive security, including inspections and forensics, investigations and legal proceedings. Whichever perspective you look at it from, automatic number plate recognition seems a necessity and a boon.
List of Cons of Automatic Number Plate Recognition
1. Lack of Manned Surveillance
The availability of an automatic system has reduced the importance of manned surveillance. Not only is there less traffic personnel on the streets and major crossroads but those that are there don’t bother to check number plates. This may lead to lapse in manned security.
2. Bad Weather or Hindrances
Coupled with the lack of manned surveillance, bad weather or any kind of hindrances and obstructions can make automatic number plate recognition systems ineffective. In such cases, the security measures may go kaput.
3. Privacy Concerns
The fact that images and records are kept and stored for a long time raises privacy concerns. The records of a person’s whereabouts in all the footages can be misused. Stalkers, data thefts and people with various nefarious intentions can misuse all such data.