PlateSmart takes license plate recognition to the cloud

‘Software-only solution’ uses existing equipment
 - 
Monday, June 30, 2014

OLDMAR, Fla.—PlateSmart, which bills itself as the first “software-only license plate recognition solution,” is in growth mode as it prepares to launch a SaaS-based LPR solution, company CEO John Chigos told Security Systems News.

“We’re bringing on additional sales and marketing people as well as increasing our development staff,” he said.

PlateSmart is a newer company that got its start at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. “That was our beta,” Chigos said.

Chigos officially introduced the product to the market in 2013 and it’s now deployed in locations such as the Port of Tampa, Florida hospitals, a large fashion house (for use at its distribution points), in traffic safety monitoring applications, and college campuses.

PlateSmart offers a mobile application, designed for law enforcement, and a fixed-location platform called ARES.

The next step will be to offer PlateSmart in a cloud-based SaaS form, making it affordable for smaller organizations, and also giving installers a new revenue stream.

Unlike the LPR “hardware/software solutions,” Chigos said he envisioned an open platform that would work with all kinds of hardware and software. PlateSmart is ONVIF compliant, works with Exacq, OnSSI and other VMS providers and has relationships with a number of analog and IP camera providers including Pelco, Panasonic, Samsung and Axis.

Chigos says PlateSmart can “use existing equipment and [end users] get more robust analytics.”

Because no hardware is involved, customization is quick, he said. In addition, PlateSmart can read “jurisdictional data … it can recognize the state, province or country and provide that data with the plate-read,” which provides more data and accuracy for the end user, he said.

It can also read the color of the vehicle, which can help determine if a car has the correct license plate. PlateSmart’s basic package is two cameras but it can easily scale to a couple hundred cameras, he said.

What about privacy concerns? Chigos said, “LPR does not provided the information many people believe it provides. Our technology carries out the process of [identifying vehicles of interest] for law enforcement. … It’s not for enforcement on the other side of the equation, [i.e.] who’s running a red light.”

He describes PlateSmart technology as “speeding up the process [of identifying vehicles] that law enforcement and security have done visually for decades.” Furthermore, he said, “We never touch, see, or handle the [license plate] data. Only the end user of the technology can see or act on the data.”

Companies that get involved with LP data, particularly selling that data, are the ones that cause legitimate privacy concerns, he said.

Chigos quoted research group IHS, saying the worldwide market for LPR is estimated to be $600 million today and is projected to grow to $1 billion by 2018.

“Applications for LPR are growing everyday,” Chigos said. “It’s going to be a mainstay of security in this country because it delivers information in real time.”

The 20-employee firm, based here, is privately held. It has “growth equity from [undisclosed] VCs, and we’ll continue to [receive VC investments] until we reach sufficient size to continue growth internally,” Chigos said.