LPR vendor ‘confident’ cameras can read blue TN plates at night after updates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you’ve been driving on the freeway lately, you’ve no doubt noticed that most Tennessee license plates are now blue, a transformation to a new plate design that began in early This year.

Although the blue plates can be aesthetic, law enforcement initially complained that they were very difficult to read at night by LPR (licence plate recognition) cameras. These cameras are widely used by police, sheriff, homeowners associations, and even schools to catch criminals, locate missing persons, and provide security.

On Monday, representatives of Herd safetyone of the industry leaders, told News 2 that the company had made numerous technology updates to read the new plate at night.

The state began issuing the new plates in early 2022. It didn’t take long for law enforcement to find that new blue patches at night were not showing up clearly on LPR cameras like those used by Flock Safety and many other vendors.

News 2 conducted his own experience, driving a van multiple times past a Flock LPR drive at night. The truck had a blue plate on the back. Sheriff officials with access to LPR technology told News 2 they were unable to read the license plate on the back of the van.

According to experts interviewed by News 2, the problem is a reflectivity issue with the new design of the TN license plate and the way it is seen by infrared cameras at night.

“The nighttime readability of the new plates has improved dramatically over the past few months, we can definitely tell you that,” said Holly Beilin of Flock Safety.

According to Beilin, Flock Safety is a leader in the LPR industry with LPR systems in more than 100 police, sheriff and homeowner associations across Tennessee.

“Our machine learning team has continuously updated the software, code, and updated the machine learning and computer vision, and we are confident that the nighttime readability is on par with the original. [Tennessee] plates,” Beilin said.

State Department of Revenue officials have consistently maintained that no changes are planned to plate design and that LPR companies will need to adapt their technology to read the new blue plates.

“We have an exceptional engineering and product team at Flock Safety, and we have law enforcement partners who really need to use our technology to help solve and reduce crime,” said said Beilin.

News 2 has contacted the state Department of Revenue for this story. The ministry made no further comment except to update figures indicating that 4.9 million blue plates have now been produced and more than 5 million are expected to be on the roads by the end of the year. .

Michelle Sanders Parks, director of communications for the state Department of General Services, answered several questions from News 2 regarding LPR cameras on state rights-of-way and the bidding process for vendors .

Sanders Parks wrote:

“Local governments continue to retain the ability and independence to procure LPRs in accordance with state law and may place them on local roads to the extent permitted. Local police departments do not have permission to place cameras on state property unless explicitly authorized by the state.

If permission is granted, the State has determined that the best way to maintain State surveillance of cameras placed on these rights-of-way is to limit this installation to cameras purchased by and through the existing State vendor. The state competed with Motorola Solutions vendor Vigilant in 2021 and continues to share information through that vendor. »

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