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First Look: LPR on the "Edge"

i-Pro has added license plate recognition capabilities to the software that manages data from its AI surveillance cameras.

i-Pro's Active Guard delivers AI metadata to popular video management systems like Genetec and Milestone.i-Pro's Active Guard delivers AI metadata to popular video management systems like Genetec and Milestone.i-Pro

One of the most prevalent trends in law enforcement technology is combining tools to improve crime fighting efficiency. An example of this is the latest version of i-Pro’s analytic software for its surveillance cameras that use artificial intelligence. The software called Active Guard now includes third-party technology from Vaxtor that adds license plate recognition capability to a surveillance camera.

Rui Barbosa, i-Pro’s manager of its surveillance product category, says customer demand was one of the reasons i-Pro agreed to adding a third-party app to its camera software. “Having LPR in Active Guard gives our customers 99% of the functions they have told us they want in a unified system,” he adds.

The LPR capabilities are available for Active Guard 1.7, which is now available for i-Pro surveillance camera users. Active Guard enables quick searches of data witnessed by the cameras while reducing the need for servers, a benefit that i-Pro says saves customers money. It works with a number of top video management system (VMS) producers, including Genetec, Milestone, and Video Insight.

“Active Guard acts as a bridge between an AI camera’s captured data and the video management system of your choice,” Barbosa says. “If you don’t have all the camera’s descriptive metadata (data about data) flowing into the actual video management system, you can’t use it for search and alarms. So, you need to have this perfect marriage between all that the camera can detect and what is supported and displayed in the video management system. And the two don’t automatically just work together,” Barbosa explains.

“All the analytics that we have are processed on the ‘edge,’ meaning they are all processed on the camera,” adds Barbosa. “We’re not streaming video to a server to process. Instead, the camera is sending metadata in very small packets to the Active Guard platform.” Once it’s in the Active Guard platform. It’s searchable.

“I can do a search and, for example, ask for people wearing black shirts and blue pants. It will search the database and give me thumbnails of all the instances of people wearing black shirts with blue pants who passed in front of that camera (or group of cameras). Then I can click on a thumbnail and see the video,” he explains.

The Active Guard server stores metadata, which allows users to search for specific characteristics displayed by persons and objects. Active Guard is designed to make camera monitoring easier and more effective. “I once demoed what Active Guard can do for a prospective customer and they said, ‘What you just did in 10 seconds, I paid someone for two weeks to do for an hour of video from my 20 cameras.’ My tagline about Active Guard is that you can’t watch everything all the time, but Active Guard can,” Barbosa says.

The latest version of Active Guard adds the ability to watch for vehicles and search the database for vehicles based on license plate number and on make, model, and color. Barbosa says the Vaxtor LPR app is the first third-party surveillance camera software to run on i-Pro’s Active Guard platform. “The platform and the app are co-dependent,” he says. “The onboard AI processor on the camera is powerful enough to run the full force of the Vaxtor plug-in and deliver the resultant data to the Active Guard platform.”

The Vaxtor plugin delivers the LPR information into the same computer window as the other data coming into the video management system from Active Guard. “It’s literally just another tab in the interface,” Barbosa says.

Users of i-Pro’s AI surveillance cameras can upgrade to Active Guard 1.7 for free. The LPR plugin app that runs in i-Pro cameras can be acquired from Vaxtor for a per camera fee.