Automatic Number Plate Recognition

By Deane Barker on March 5, 2004

London Congestion Charge : This is an interesting Wikipedia article about the “congestion charge” levied on vehicles entering the busiest zone in Central London. Apparently traffic was so bad here, that they charge people $9 US for a day pass to drive in it.

Those sneaky Brits are too smart for mere tollbooths for enforcement:

Two hundred and thirty CCTV-style cameras, of which 180 are installed at the edge of the zone, record a stream of video of roads in the zone. There are also a number of mobile camera units which may be deployed anywhere in the zone.

It is estimated that around 98% of vehicles moving within the zone will be caught on camera. The video streams are then transmitted to a data centre located in Central London where a computer system equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (OCR) software deduces the registration plate of the vehicle.

Here’s another good article about the technology. I think the Brits have pioneered this just because the numbers on the license plates are so big.



  1. We’ve installed the same system in the Netherlands, but it doesn’t work as good as in the UK, because of the different “font” used on our license plates.

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