Skip to main content

Trusted by 100,000+ organizations globally

Video security technology has advanced significantly in recent years, enabling security staff, law enforcement officers and business owners across all industries to improve threat detection and response capabilities dramatically. With the advent of AI video management systems and cloud-based management systems, proactive and intelligent surveillance solutions can be freely created.

Among the most interesting of these solutions lies license plate reader cameras: intelligently designed video security devices capable of capturing and analyzing license plate data to aid in identifying suspicious vehicles. When manually reviewing captured footage may be too difficult, LPR camera systems help teams collect critical license tag data.

LPR cameras can support security efforts across many commercial, legal and residential environments, enabling professionals to make more efficient use of limited resources. This post will provide a comprehensive guide to LPR solutions for security staff, business leaders and property owners interested in developing LPR security camera systems.

What are license plate reader cameras?

License plate reader cameras are specialized video surveillance tools capable of automatically detecting, analyzing and recording license plate information. They are generally installed in fixed locations overlooking parking lots, private roads and other similar places where traffic must be monitored for security purposes, though some solutions are portable.

Cameras equipped with license plate capture software capture multiple images of a vehicle as it passes through the unit’s field of view. These images are then analyzed by an internal computer program designed to discern legible text from captured footage as quickly and accurately as possible. This process is known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

As license plate reader cameras can analyze captured images with support from AI software and machine learning algorithms, they often produce readable text from footage that seems illegible to the human eye. This can prove invaluable to property owners, security staff and law enforcement teams investigating the presence of suspicious vehicles on private property.

AI-powered LPR cameras and software

  • Capture high-quality footage of vehicles

  • Create and import secure watchlists

  • Receive rules-based alerts for license plates of interest

  • Optimize operations based on vehicle analytics 

  • Leverage plate-based parking enforcement

Types of license plate recognition camera

While all license plate surveillance cameras are designed to capture high-quality footage of passing vehicles, not all of them work in the same way. Below are a few examples of common LPR camera types and expected differences between solutions.

  • License plate recognition cameras — These devices generally possess the ability to both capture license plate information and further analyze that data with support from internal AI software and external database search functionality.

  • License plate capture cameras — Often referred to as LPC cameras, these devices differ from LPR cameras in that they typically only capture license plate information and don’t come with additional tools like database search or AI software functionality.

  • IP license plate cameras — IP (Internet Protocol) LPR cameras can send and receive data over a secure internet connection. This enables security teams to access and review footage remotely and connect cameras to broader systems.

  • Automatic license plate recognition cameras — Some number plate recognition camera systems may be labeled as ALPR systems by manufacturers, which means the system can capture and analyze footage automatically, but most modern plate reader cameras are automatic, so the terms ALPR and LPR are used interchangeably.

  • Handheld tag reader cameras — Handheld tag reading cameras are smaller portable versions of stationary LPR cameras that are typically used by law enforcement teams to conduct roadside license plate checks and aid officers in capturing license tag data.

Everyday use cases for license plate cameras

Camera license plate recognition systems can be effectively deployed in many unique situations to aid stakeholders in monitoring facility use. From live occupancy management to security event investigations, a few common use cases for LPR camera systems are below.

Parking monitoring

As car ownership rates continue to rise across the US, many facility managers and business owners may need help with parking enforcement and management. Deploying license plate reader cameras helps ensure that staff can accurately monitor parking lots in real time by offering information about the number of available spaces and the duration of each vehicle’s visit.

License plate detection cameras can also be linked to access control systems, enabling staff to automatically confirm or deny entry using license plate information in place of tickets or card-based credentials. Payment processing may also be linked to them to calculate and charge parking fees automatically based on the duration of visits.

In addition, by registering each vehicle’s license plate information in a centralized database, stakeholders can accurately track visiting times to enforce parking violations. Using license plate reading cameras can also help teams investigate suspected offenses and pass necessary information over to law enforcement officers if criminal activity has occurred.

Commercial real estate 

License plate surveillance cameras can monitor parking facilities linked to commercial real estate. Gate access control systems can be programmed to use registration information as access credentials, with temporary permissions granted to visitors, couriers and guests to reduce the risk of unauthorized intrusion events and better monitor facility use.

If license plate cameras are in operation, stakeholders can link active hardware to existing security systems to improve threat detection and response capabilities. Real-time alerts may be developed to warn stakeholders of unknown vehicles loitering around private properties, with options to view live footage and activate further security devices as and when required.

Retail businesses

LPR security cameras can provide retail business owners with similar access control and parking management capabilities, though their use may also bring about several unique extra benefits. For example, they can be integrated into customer loyalty programs, with personalized rewards automatically distributed to repeat customers based on visit frequency.

Number plate recognition cameras can also be used to improve curbside pickup operations. Stationary LPR cameras may be programmed to automatically register the presence of cars waiting to pick up orders, with connected systems instantly alerting in-store teams to provide service. By linking curbside pickup orders to a customer’s license plate information, business owners can also reduce the risk of orders being stolen or delivered to the wrong customers. 

Furthermore, license plate detection cameras can help teams strengthen existing retail security systems by improving loss prevention operations. By monitoring each vehicle that enters, exits or loiters around the store, security staff can better identify suspicious activity, like repeat visitors who don’t make purchases.

Gated communities

Since most gated communities are only accessible by road, it makes sense to focus primary security efforts on managing vehicle access and parking facilities better. By installing license plate surveillance cameras overlooking main access points, homeowners can limit community access only to vehicles registered in a pre-approved vehicle database.

LPR cameras also help residents avoid parking disputes, with each space linked to specific vehicles owned by current residents. In addition, the presence of advanced security features, such as LPR access control solutions, may act to enhance property values.

Law enforcement agencies

Law enforcement agencies commonly deploy both stationary and handheld license tag reader cameras to assist in preventing and investigating criminal activity. LPR cameras can be used to issue fines for speeding and parking violations and assist officers in investigating crimes in which suspects have evaded capture in private vehicles.

They can also be used to automatically enforce payment for the use of toll roads and monitor vehicle usage in low-emission zones. Further potential uses for LPR cameras include public assistance programs like services to help citizens find parking spaces in congested cities by continually monitoring parking spaces in real-time.

What to look for in a license plate surveillance camera

Businesses and property owners can find a wide range of LPR camera systems available to suit numerous specific needs. For a system to be effective, stakeholders must know which features to prioritize when designing a new installation. To assist teams in this pursuit, the following section details various features to look for when selecting these cameras.

Playback features

To ensure recorded footage offers teams enough data to investigate suspicious activities, stakeholders should prioritize LPR camera systems with multi-camera playback features. The best license plate reader cameras can easily be linked to additional security cameras, enabling staff to collect multiple images of suspicious vehicles past any initial trigger points.

Analytical abilities

While simple license plate capture cameras can provide stakeholders with clear images of passing identification plates, additional analytical features will be required to make good use of this information. High-quality LPR systems come with internal software that can analyze the make and model of passing cars, as well as enhance image quality to improve detection. 

Search functionality

Most LPR camera systems can identify and store specific license plate information in an internal database, though not all solutions include search functionality. To ensure staff can quickly locate relevant information during investigations, stakeholders must look for LPR cameras featuring native databases that can be searched by date, time and location.

Camera hardware

The technical specifications of associated cameras will somewhat restrict all license plate reader solutions. To ensure suitable coverage and image quality, stakeholders should prioritize bullet cameras with long-range zoom functionality. 4K license plate cameras offer the highest image quality, while IP security cameras enable teams to adjust hardware remotely.

Integration capabilities

LPR camera systems are often most effective when combined with existing commercial security system devices like access control, video security and on-site alarm systems. Look for IP license plate cameras and hardware featuring open API specifications, as these solutions can share data between compatible devices to support broader security integrations.

LPR camera system installation considerations

Once teams have selected the best license plate recognition camera unit to suit their unique needs, attention must be directed to installation considerations. To ensure LPR cameras can capture usable images reliably and effectively, adhere to the following best practices. 


To be effective, license plate reader cameras should be positioned in high-traffic areas that vehicles commonly pass through. Choke points like parking lot entrances, turning points and one-way roads are ideal, as vehicles typically pass through a predetermined point at a low speed. Properties must be surveyed before installation to locate suitable choke points. 


License plate recognition cameras must be mounted at an optimal height and distance from passing vehicles to ensure clear images are reliably captured. As a general rule, cameras should be installed around 5 meters off the ground and positioned at a 30° angle facing the previously determined choke point, though testing should be performed to ensure accuracy.


Modern LPR cameras usually have specialized software designed to help business and property owners adjust the settings to suit their installation. These settings include exposure, zoom and focus, though additional features like specialized day and night settings may also be present. Adjust and test these features thoroughly before regular use.


Stakeholders must consider that plate reader cameras must be frequently assessed and maintained during regular use. This means units should be installed where staff can safely access physical hardware, though concealed so that vandalism does not become a significant concern. In some situations, it may be wise to prioritize LPR cameras with in-built anti-vandal features like tamper-proof lens covers and pressure alarms.


Continued developments in video surveillance and AI technology have enabled increasing numbers of business and property owners to strengthen existing security and building management systems. Among the most exciting developments are LPR cameras positioned to assist teams in better identifying and addressing suspicious vehicles. 

Automatic license plate recognition cameras can be deployed to streamline access control systems, improve parking management solutions and support security teams investigating potential offenses. In addition, specialized LPR camera systems can help business owners improve customer experiences through developments like personalized reward programs.

Provided stakeholders follow trusted installation best practices such as installing devices in known choke points and mounting cameras at an optimal height, LPR cameras can assist teams in improving their security posture and better addressing suspicious behaviors. So long as installations are well-planned, LPR systems can support many use cases.

Have questions? We can help

Our video security experts can help you implement the right security system for your business.