Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) can be an effective and intelligent tool for reducing crime when used carefully. However, there are many misconceptions about how ALPR works, how it can be safely operated, and the impact of US state-level ALPR legislation.

For example, it is often cited that in a number of states, ALPR laws preclude organizations from using ALPR. This, in fact, is not typically the case for retailers.

There are more areas to clear up when it comes to understanding ALPR. We’ll do that in this post, taking a closer look at ALPR for retail and exploring the basics of how Auror helps you overcome any potential privacy and regulatory concerns. 

Reviewing ALPR

As mentioned, ALPR can be an effective tool for reducing various types of crime when used carefully. High-level use cases include identifying vehicles of interest (carrying known offenders), linking vehicles to organized retail crime (ORC) groups, and supporting reactive crime investigations.

ALPR operates through a camera – or computer system connected to a camera – that automatically captures all license plates that come into view (ALPR readers). It includes the location, date, time, and an image that is processed and often stored in databases (ALPR data).

ALPR generally uses Optical Character Recognition or Computer Vision to determine from an image the letters and numbers that make up a license plate, and it can be installed in fixed locations (e.g. parking lots, building entrances) or mobile locations (e.g. attached to a car). It is also commonly used for access control such as carpark buildings and to secure restricted spaces.

Trusted use of ALPR with Auror

As the center of your crime intelligence ecosystem, the Auror platform holds information you collect on the people and vehicles that have previously targeted your stores and employees. It integrates with your ALPR systems to provide real-time alerts on vehicles of interest.

Auror’s ALPR Intelligence module integrates with ALPR and CCTV cameras to provide the privacy and data process frameworks to allow retailers to safely, securely, and legally operate ALPR.

Using Auror means that frontline users don’t need to directly operate or interact with an ALPR system. The Auror platform automates the creation of vehicles of interest (based on an organization’s set criteria) and users only interact with the real-time alerts that are generated through Auror. Auror works with retailers across the world and has assisted with the safe and successful deployment of ALPR in thousands of retail stores.

When it comes to the US, there are 17 states with legislation expressly addressing the use of ALPR, the majority of which focus on restricting law enforcement usage. Where an ALPR law only applies to law enforcement agencies, then ostensibly retailers will be free to use ALPR technology, following our recommended best practice on security and privacy-enhancing controls.

We have built the Auror platform using a Privacy-by-Design approach that embeds privacy and security as foundational principles and helps retail customers comply with ALPR laws. In particular, the following aspects of the Auror ALPR Integration help with your use and operation of ALPR across the US:

Security: Access controls determine who has access to ALPR data and alerts within an organization. Data is encrypted in transit and at rest, and the platform is securely hosted in Microsoft Azure US data centers.

Data retention and minimization: Auror provides automated retention policies for ALPR data. The default is a maximum of 60 days, after which general ALPR data is automatically deleted. Data about a known vehicle of interest is retained for investigation purposes and automatically added to the investigation or event within the Auror platform – and aligned with an organization’s data retention policy.

Data quality and accuracy: ALPR data includes a “confidence rating” on the likely accuracy of the license plate which the platform uses to discard low accuracy detections immediately. ALPR data also includes an image which is able to be cross-referenced with the intelligence already on the platform, such as previous vehicle sightings and possible subjects associated with the vehicle.

Purpose limitation: The platform has been designed to ensure ALPR data is only used in ways that directly relate to and support the purpose of providing a safe store environment, investigating incidents that occur at an organization, and enabling the organization to prevent crime and protect the public.

Usage limitation: There are a defined set of usages on the platform focused on crime and safety, and access is limited to certain users. Auror’s ALPR rules engine allows an organization to set specific criteria for automatic creation of vehicles of interest and alerts (criteria includes dollar value, violence or aggression, and repeat offending). This stops users from manually adding vehicles to an ALPR system directly.

User auditing: All user activities are logged and can be audited. Information logged includes the username, the time and date of accessing ALPR data, what ALPR data was accessed, and reasons for access. Specific workflows for ALPR Data access have been implemented to mitigate any misuse or improper access to ALPR Data.

Privacy policies: Auror has its own public-facing privacy policy and can assist retailers with preparation of a suitable ALPR-focused privacy policy.

Empowering your team members with Auror for ALPR

Providing intelligence to your frontline teams allows for better decision-making to occur before someone enters your store – keeping employees and customers safer, and protecting the products on your shelves.

Automated ALPR alerting through Auror means retailers can:

Find and track vehicles of interest. 

Find and get alerted to known vehicles of interest as they enter your site, so you can advance your investigations and prevent potential incidents. 

Connect cases, people, and vehicles.

Automatically link known subjects and vehicles when they offend. Gain a comprehensive understanding of each subject and their history.

Take action to prevent crime.

Known vehicles of interest can be captured in real time and staff notified. Choose to disable pumps, alert team members, and notify law enforcement.

Ready to see Auror for ALPR in action? Set up a chat today.

August 12, 2022
Store Safety

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