U.S. DOT to research automatic license-plate readers

By Land Line staff | Thursday, September 25, 2014

The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking for a vendor to conduct research on automatic license-plate readers. The DOT hopes the research will reveal the pros, cons and legal challenges of using the devices to check for suspended licenses or identify vehicles of interest.

The DOT’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass., published a notice on Sept. 19 that seeks a research group to review how agencies may be using the devices and to evaluate the performance of the systems.

“ALPR systems automatically capture an image of a vehicle’s license plate, transform that image into alphanumeric characters, compare the captured license plate number to one or more databases of vehicles of interest (e.g., Hot Lists), and alert the officer when a plate matching an agency’s Hot List is observed,” the notice states.

“The automated capture, analysis, and comparison of vehicle license plates to a Hot List generally occur within seconds.”

Automatic license-plate readers may be deployed for homeland security, to locate stolen vehicles, and to uncover various license offenses. The upcoming study will also reveal whether law enforcement are using the devices for any other purpose, such as speed enforcement, the notice states.

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