Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) gives airports new tools for not only enforcing parking throughout their lots, but also improving the customer experience and protecting travelers, says Charles Pitman, AutoVu Product Marketing Manager, Genetec Inc.
In many airports, monitoring vehicles entering and exiting lots with ANPR is set up initially to reduce fraud and detect vehicles of interest, such as stolen vehicles or those belonging to individuals on government watch lists, and especially suspect vehicles that are showing abnormal patterns of activity (such as ‘casing the scene’ and multiple drive-bys). By equipping parking lots with ANPR, airports can better collaborate with local authorities to mitigate criminal or terrorist actions, improve response times and facilitate incident investigations.
The benefits of ANPR go beyond enhancing the security of peripheral airport facilities like parking lots. Fixed ANPR units record occupancy of each lot, allowing operators to easily direct vehicles to where they run a better chance to find a space as early as possible, allowing them to make the right decision and decrease congestion closest to the airport.
Alternatively, vehicles equipped with ANPR units can be used to keep an accurate inventory of the parking lots, providing a real-time record of when vehicles initially enter a parking lot and exit. This way, if a traveler loses their ticket, the parking operator can easily track the vehicle to know how long they have been in the lot, and charge them appropriately. Moreover, these systems report where the vehicles were located, helping travelers find their vehicles quickly after a long trip.
ANPR units at entrances and exits of lots are also sometimes paired with high-definition video recording of the vehicle, recording the condition of the vehicle when it entered and exited. This evidence is useful in determining whether vehicles have sustained damage while in the lot or whether dents and scratches were already there, mitigating damage claims and the liability of the parking operators.
For some airports looking to personalize the traveler’s experience, ANPR can be used to tie into other high-end services for frequent flyers, including access to reserved parking areas or white glove customer assistance for high status members of various airline programs. ANPR allows gates to open automatically for approved vehicles, and provides lounge attendants with notice of elite members’ arrival and recorded preferences, allowing for a smoother airport experience.
Finally, ANPR provides airports and parking managers a wealth of information and analytic data on who is using their lots, even in ungated environments. Key statistics like occupancy of each lot over time, duration of stay, and recurring visits, allow parking and airport operators to collect valuable insights into where and when new parking is needed, as well as which areas are less used. This information becomes especially interesting when making changes to infrastructure, helping parking managers know if their current infrastructure is having the desired effect by lightening the load on existing lots, and which lots are seeing the most improvement.