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U San Diego Adds License Plate Reading to Surveillance Cameras

The University of San Diego has added license plate recognition software to its public safety arsenal. The university has integrated Analytic Recognition Enterprise Solutions (ARES) from PlateSmart Technologies with Pelco Sarix cameras to monitor vehicles coming onto and leaving the campus.

According to the company, ARES adds functionality that allows surveillance cameras to capture license plate data. As a vehicle passes in front of a camera, the image is run through PlateSmart's software, which verifies license plate numbers and the state of origin. That information can then be analyzed against a database such as a university-generated watch list. When a match is made, alerts are texted and emailed to a designated group of users in real-time.

The software also maintains a database of license plate data with date and time stamps for later retrieval, a point of contention for privacy advocates. In July 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report titled, "You Are Being Tracked," stating, "If not properly secured, license plate reader databases open the door to abusive tracking."

To address concerns regarding how long police departments maintain data they collect through license plate reading, the company has included a function that allows institutional or other users to specify how long the data will be stored by the software.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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