Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


PlateSmart uses AI and deep learning to provide its customers with vehicle intelligence that goes beyond just reading a license plate. Yes, our ALPR software does an excellent job reading plates under virtually all environmental conditions, day or night. But PlateSmart knows that plate information alone will only take our customers so far. That’s why our solutions can provide additional insights:

  • Individual vehicle travel history
    • Use the license plate to see a vehicle’s travel history.
    • Limit by date and time.
    • Filter by camera location.
    • Determine travel time between cameras (minimum, maximum, and average).
    • See the most common routes the vehicle has taken.
  • Find Traffic Hotspots
    • Identify traffic hotspots by date and time.
    • Filter by camera location for more detailed intelligence.
  • Powerful Search and Filter Tools:
    • By vehicle attributes, such as make, color, and jurisdiction.
    • By camera location.
    • By date and time.
    • Use any combination of the above.

The software is enterprise-ready, meaning it can scale to read video feeds from thousands of cameras and return search results in mere seconds. That means up-to-the-minute vehicle intelligence you can use.

In a word, absolutely. PlateSmart prides itself on being a global solution. We own the software, so we can do custom development for any client around the world.

PlateSmart partners with system integrators and resellers across the country and around the world. We train their support staff to troubleshoot the most common issues. But our in-house engineering and technical support team is always available to support them, from commissioning a new system to performing extensive troubleshooting of software or hardware issues.

Deployment Requirements

The camera(s) used as part of the ALPR system must:

  • be IP-based with a static IP V4 address supporting H.264 and .MJPEG.
  • be capable of delivering a consistently zoomed and focused image at the designated license plate capture zone(s) during both daytime and nighttime conditions.  
  • be capable of delivering video frames in which a U.S. license plate is no less than 60 pixels in height at the furthest point in the capture zone, up to 1080p.  
  • As a guideline, you can estimate the camera lens capability relative to the distance to the capture zone by equating 1 mm of lens length to 1 foot of distance from camera to the license plate.
  • have the ability to manually control the shutter speed and adjust up to 1/5000. 
  • be able to pull the "http: / rtsp:" stream.
  • be capable of removing wide dynamic range.
  • have adjustable lenses allowing for easy focus and zoom. 

Ideally the camera(s) should be able to be controlled remotely via their respective webpages, as the integrator or end customer is responsible for their calibration and ongoing maintenance. 

PlateSmart requires camera calibration to be completed during both daytime and nighttime conditions to ensure optimal performance. A license plate or vehicle with a license plate is required during the calibration process.

The integrator or end customer is responsible for the choice of the camera(s), their calibration and ongoing maintenance. PlateSmart recommends discussing camera considerations with a PlateSmart support engineer before purchasing or installing new camera equipment for the ALPR system.

Any server used for ALPR processing must have an Intel or Xeon 6th generation or newer central processing unit (CPU). No support for alternate CPUs is currently available. For complete CPU, RAM, and storage requirements, please contact your PlateSmart Regional Sales Manager, as different size ALPR systems demand different hardware specifications. 

PlateSmart ALPR can run on either a centralized server or an edge computing platform. This is because for some applications, it is often easier and more cost-effective to perform ALPR at the camera via an edge box rather than at a centralized server.

These include applications with only a few cameras as well as those for which consistent network connectivity with a centralized server is problematic. PlateSmart partners with edge computing hardware providers, or you can source your own edge box with input from PlateSmart regarding hardware specifications.

At present, Linux is not supported. The PlateSmart ARES backend server must be installed on Windows Server 2012 R2 through Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 with full desktop experience. Additionally, the PlateSmart ALPR processors must be installed on Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 with full desktop experience. No other operating systems or varieties are supported at this time.

PlateSmart ARES cannot be installed on a network video recorder (NVR) box or on a video management system (VMS) box.

While we recommend discussing computer and camera hardware with a PlateSmart support engineer before making your purchase, you are free to source your own hardware as long as it complies with our minimum requirements.

ARES Features

PlateSmart ALPR can extract the alphanumeric plate data as well as the state or country jurisdiction, the vehicle make, and the vehicle color. But it is the additional vehicle intelligence PlateSmart offers that really make a difference for customers.

PlateSmart ARES® 3.0, the latest release of the company’s award-winning ALPR software, is driven by a cutting-edge AI engine that provides intelligence you can use. Like heat maps that show travel patterns and density during specific dates and times. Sophisticated search tools for sifting easily through the vehicle data, with results you can export for further sharing or analysis. Unlimited hotlists you can create and edit with the click of a button. And easy connections to NCIC and state crime databases. There are also no upper limits on the number of camera feeds it can monitor. Use it with four cameras or 4000 — the choice is yours.

In good environmental conditions, PlateSmart can capture plate images with horizontal and vertical angles up to 20 degrees and rotational angles up to 15 degrees. For sharper angles, PlateSmart includes technology called Perspective Correction that allows users to instruct the software to take plate images captured at up to 40 degrees and essentially straighten them so they can be more easily – and accurately – read.

Yes it can.

PlateSmart supports 1080p natively, although we can process 4k video by either reducing the resolution at the camera or compressing the video at the backend. Native support for 4k will be forthcoming in a future release.

Yes it can.

Not at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we cannot work with 4k cameras. We simply adjust the resolution to 1080p. Native support for 4k will be forthcoming in a future release.

Yes, but it might not be practical. PlateSmart ALPR software simply needs access to the feed in order to read plates and vehicle information, so one camera can be used as long as the PlateSmart software can access the feed. Because ALPR requires a view of a road, however, there might not be much else in terms of surveillance that the camera can see. Thus, it is possible, but not likely practical.

Unlike many ALPR solutions, PlateSmart does not require that the license plate be reflective. This is because our solution does not require that cameras use infrared and can function very well as long as the image from the camera is readable to the human eye.

Thus, as long as there is a light source to illuminate the plate, either infrared or plain white light, PlateSmart will be able to read it. In situations in which the vehicle is shrouded in darkness, the software might not be able to determine the vehicle make and color. However, PlateSmart ALPR should be able to reliably read the plate.

Because PlateSmart ALPR is intended to provide real-time vehicle intelligence and alerts, it works only with a live video feed from a camera. It is not intended for use with prerecorded video or still images.

All system administration is done via web interface. You can log in using a dedicated email address and password or via Windows Active Directory. This makes it easy for users and administrators to access the system from wherever they are.

Absolutely! Not only is it a key feature of PlateSmart ALPR, but you can add unlimited watchlists to the system. Adding them and editing them is literally done at the touch of a button. You can even import them from an external file. Finally, you can share your data with law enforcement and help them catch suspects on their watchlists, i.e. BOLOs.

There are no technological limits to how long you can retain the data. From a technological perspective, you can retain the data up to the limits of your system storage. However, from a practical standpoint, data retention is governed by local laws as well as your own organization’s data retention policies.

With regard to privacy, the data you acquire by using PlateSmart software is yours and yours alone, to do with as you wish in accordance with national and local . We neither touch it nor have visibility to it. And that means that, unlike some other ALPR providers, we never sell it.

PlateSmart ARES® 3.0 offers incredibly powerful search capabilities. First, you can search for a full or partial plate, and the system will search every plate read in your database as captured by all the cameras in your network. However, you can narrow your search by the state jurisdiction, vehicle make, and vehicle color.

Search for plates within a specific date range; you can even narrow it down by a specific time of day. Do you know which camera or cameras the vehicle might have passed? There is a filter for that. And, of course, you can mix and match any of those search criteria. Look for red vehicles passing a particular camera on a particular day. Search for Nebraska plates on Buicks only. The combinations are almost limitless!

Watchlists can be searched in several ways:

  • By full or partial license plate
  • By camera
  • By alert

Alerts can be filtered in the same way you can search for vehicles in the system: by plate, jurisdiction, vehicle attribute (make and/or color) as well as by date/time and camera.

PlateSmart ALPR software is licensed per camera connection. However, there are no licensing fees for user seats. You can have as many users as you like accessing the software.

You can receive alerts in three ways: 

  • Onscreen while accessing the software’s user interface via web browser.
  • Via email
  • Via SMS text

It’s important to understand that email and SMS text alerts require a connection between PlateSmart’s ALPR software and your email server and/or your SMS text provider. PlateSmart has no limitations on the number of users who can receive alerts; they would only be limited by your email server and SMS text provider.

You can. The Security Intelligence web interface of PlateSmart ARES 3.0 allows you to monitor live plate and vehicle reads in real time. You can monitor the data alone in a list format or see each camera feed in a variety of on-screen layouts. For users with hundreds or thousands of cameras, it’s possible to group the cameras and filter the plate reads by camera group. That can make monitoring the system easier.

All that is required to access ALPR data inside a vehicle, such as a police cruiser, is a connection to the PlateSmart ARES backend server via web browser.

We do support this and have for some time. The software can serve as a portal to NCIC and state BOLO databases. This functionality can be activated with user-provided credentials and will then run automatically. It’s important to note that PlateSmart does not have access to this data at any time.

Yes. Our search capabilities allow you to export results to JSON, CSV or XLSX formats for additional analysis and research.

We currently have specific custom integrations available for Milestone, Exacq, and Verint VMS systems. A similar integration with Axis Camera Station will be coming soon. However, we are able to integrate with virtually any VMS system – any third-party software application, in fact. Talk with your PlateSmart sales representative for more information.

Yes. We can perform custom integrations with virtually any third-party software application.

Yes. PlateSmart can integrate with third-party access control software to trigger a gate to open – or remain closed – based upon the license plate of the vehicle.

Yes. You can authenticate with a discrete username and password or via Microsoft Active Directory.

The sky is literally the limit with regard to cameras. There are no software limitations. The only limitations would be the computing power required to process the camera feeds.

As camera counts increase, processing requirements also increase. The first approach to managing this is to upgrade existing hardware to its limits – a vertical approach to scaling. After this approach has been exhausted, one would take a horizontal approach by adding additional computer hardware to manage the load. That new hardware would then be scaled vertically until a horizontal approach would again be required.

While we recommend using an on-premise server, PlateSmart software can be hosted in the cloud. If you choose to host PlateSmart ALPR in a closed network, please understand that the integration with Google Maps for certain analytics as well as SMS text messaging would not be available.

The short answer to all of those questions is yes. PlateSmart ALPR can be installed on either physical or virtual machines.

This varies by application. For small- to medium-sized solutions, we recommend on-premise disk storage, as it is the simplest approach. We can support third-party storage or on-premise database storage for high-volume applications or those that require a hands-off storage service.

ARES offers full audit capabilities, so that you can see at any time who has been accessing the system and when. This is valuable in that it ensures only authorized users access the system and do not use the system for malicious or illegal purposes.

ARES Analytics

PlateSmart ARES Analytics provides an almost unprecedented wealth of information – actionable vehicle intelligence. Please visit our ARES Analytics page for complete information.

Powered by PlateSmart features

The short answer is practically all of them. Powered by PlateSmart was designed to make it easy for third-party software applications that would benefit from automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) to add it quickly and easily. Some solutions that PlateSmart has worked with include the following:

  • Visitor management
  • Parking management
  • Car washes
  • Drive-thru point of sale
  • Curbside pickup

It’s designed to be as easy as possible. Using your cameras, the Powered by PlateSmart engine captures the vehicle data (events and images) and exports it to your solution via industry-standard webAPI/JSON call for both metadata and images. Contact us to learn more.