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Which License Plate Reading Camera is Best for My Needs?

Flock Safety's Fixed ALPR Solution vs. Traditional Systems.


Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) have been instrumental in helping law enforcement solve and prevent crime for decades. Today, there are several options on the market to read license plates. What was traditionally available only to police departments are now becoming available to businesses and neighborhoods as well. This page will help you decide which system is best for you when it comes to your safety needs.

Flock Safety

At Flock Safety, our mission is to eliminate non-violent crime. We are a crime-fighting company that uses technology to help police prevent criminal activity and solve cases. We have developed an infrastructure-free, cost-effective, modern-take on traditional ALPR systems. Flock Safety delivers more than just license plate information. We’ve taken license plate reading to the next level by including details on the entire vehicle. Our system captures things like color and type of vehicle. In fact, Flock can identify a temporary paper plate and even a vehicle where there is no plate present.

Traditional ALPR

Vendors that sell traditional ALPR solutions are typically only focused on capturing and sharing the license plate of a vehicle. These cameras usually use infrared (IR) technology to identify the license plate details. They can be found next to red light cameras, monitoring entrances and exits of parking lots, and mounted on police cars.

Image Capture

Demo Image - Sunville-1

When a crime occurs, the first thing that's needed is actionable evidence. Vehicle information related to the suspects at the scene can be the turning point in a case. Studies show that in over 70% of crime, a vehicle is present. That means details on the vehicle is a critical piece of evidence needed to help solve the case.

Traditional license plate readers capture an image with infrared technology when a license plate is present. When searching footage results, analytics pull from the plate captured only. Additional technology can be added on to run the plate against the DMV to find additional information like color and type that are tied to the registered plate. 

In contrast, Flock Safety systems are motion sensor triggered. Our technology captures an image of the vehicle, then uses image analytics powered by machine learning to analyze it for attributes such as the type and color of the vehicle, the presence of a license plate, and additional objects found (people, bicycles, or animals). In the case that a plate is placed on something aside from its registered vehicle, filters and results will reflect on what was seen.

Typical Costs 

In the past, well-funded businesses and law enforcement agencies have only been able to purchase a few license plate readers due to the high cost.

Traditional ALPRs can range anywhere from $10,000 - $30,000 upfront, which doesn’t include ongoing maintenance and software subscriptions. Furthermore, most traditional systems have add-on costs for providing the camera with power and internet, that is required for the system to work successfully.

In contrast, one Flock Safety system costs $2,500 per year with an installation cost of $250 per camera. This price includes unlimited seats on our user portal, hotlist alert notifications, installation, ongoing maintenance, and access to our Support team for help. Flock’s price enables customers to buy more cameras than they could traditionally, which means scalable coverage to help solve more crime! 

Privacy and Data Access

Many traditional ALPR vendors offer access to nationwide databases, but they require customers to provide the data they collect as well. This nation-wide sharing of license plate data has been in the news recently in a negative light and has an effect on citizen perception of the technology.

With Flock Safety, the customer owns 100% of their data. The customer also has complete control over their own data. Customers have the ability to provide temporary or permanent access to whomever they choose. Flock will never monitor, share, or sell your data. It’s yours!

Installation and Maintenance

For all license plate reading systems, installation is required to set up the system. Hardware and software implementation play into how much the installation process will cost.

For traditional systems, the implementation process can take anywhere from three months to a year depending on the size of the project and infrastructure requirements. These systems require AC power. Furthermore, the customer owns and is responsible for the hardware. When hardware fails or goes obsolete, it falls on the customer to replace and repair it. Oftentimes, IT involvement is required for on-premises equipment set-up, creating additional installation costs.

Since installation and ongoing maintenance are included in the cost of a Flock Safety camera, we take care of it for you. Customers don't have to worry about monitoring system performance or manually upgrade software, Flock handles that for you. With solar power or electric options, our team works with you to determine the best power source...both being included in the subscription cost. 


Flock Safety helps provide police every day with an average 65 hotlist alerts per hour. Additionally, communities with Flock Safety see a 30-50% reduction in crime after installation. Our customer-base is unique in that we have private and public relationships that extend your footprint within the city without additional cost. From neighborhood Homeowner Associations, hotels, apartment complexes, to business improvement districts (BID)s, our team can help everyone in the community. Interested in learning more? Contact police@flocksafety.com for more details on fixed ALPRs with Flock Safety.

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