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Which License Plate Reader Security Camera is Best for My Needs?

Flock Safety Automatic License Plate Readers vs. Traditional Systems.


Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) have been instrumental in helping law enforcement solve and prevent crime for decades. Today, customers have many options when it comes to ALPR systems. This page will help you decide which system is best for you when it comes to keeping your city, business, or neighborhood safe.

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 numbers. We’ve taken license plate reading to the next level by including vehicle identification technology. Our system captures vehicle details distinct from the plate, like color and type of vehicle. In fact, Flock can identify a temporary paper tag and even a vehicle where the tag is completely missing.

Traditional ALPR

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

Capture the evidence needed to solve crime

When a crime occurs, the first thing needed after being called to the scene is, “what happened?” With ALPRs, the image-capturing technology helps build the case.

Image Analysis Process

Studies show that over 70% of crime occurs with a vehicle, so the number one piece of evidence law enforcement needs to solve a crime is a license plate. Using license plate information, law enforcement can access DMV data to find the identity of the perpetrator and narrow their search. It’s widely known that the first 48-72 hours is the most important after a crime occurs. After 72 hours, collected leads often grow cold without the correct evidence to back them up, making it more challenging for police to solve the case. This means evidence needs to be collected quickly, and ALPRs help.

Traditional license plate readers capture an infrared image and a context image only when a license plate is present. Only the infrared image is analyzed for plate characters.

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 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).

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"My new, high-end bicycle was stolen from my house within my first week of moving to the Atlanta area. Thankfully, the Flock camera system along my street captured the criminal’s face, tag number, and car in enough detail to view my bike in the trunk and provide local law enforcement enough evidence to arrest the criminal. It was later found that the criminal was responsible for several other thefts in both my neighborhood and Atlanta suburb. If my neighbor had not installed the Flock camera system along our street, the criminal might still be at large, and my bike would not have been returned to me."

- Chris G., Atlanta, GA

“With Flock’s system, we were able to successfully solve an incident that in any other situation would have been a cold case”

- Detective N. Yimer, Dekalb County Police

How much do I have to pay?

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

The cost of traditional ALPRs can range from $10,000 - $30,000 upfront, which doesn’t include ongoing maintenance and software subscriptions. Furthermore, most traditional systems have add-on costs like an annual recurring software subscription fee that typically starts at around $500 per camera per user license.

Additionally, users can only search by plate number or vehicle make, model, or year.

In contrast, one Flock Safety system costs $2,000 per year. This price includes unlimited seats on our user portal, integration to the FBI’s Hot Tag database with alerts for any state, installation, ongoing maintenance, and access to our Customer Success Managers who are ready to help in the event of a crime.

Our unlimited users can search by plate, vehicle type (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.), color, and object (animal, bicycle, person).

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Flock’s price enables police to buy more cameras for more coverage.

Also, residents can purchase cameras on behalf of their community. This supports a larger network for community-wide safety. More cameras distributed throughout the area provide better information on the location of potential criminals.

How is data handled?

Privacy and Data Access

Many traditional ALPR vendors offer access to nationwide databases, but they require customers to provide their personal data 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 resident and citizen perception of security 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 play into how much the installation process will cost.

Installation process

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. 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. The customer won’t have to worry about the upkeep of their system. Our cameras are solar powered and can be paired with AC or DC power based on need. This helps in shortening the installation process. As we continue to make improvements in our software and hardware, we make sure to update each customer’s systems as needed.

The Right Foundation

Security systems do more than capture footage. If designed correctly, these systems should also make citizens feel safe. That’s why picking the right system is so important. At Flock, we understand the value of privacy.

Our system was built by a resident who wanted an affordable security system for his neighborhood that also respected his privacy.

We also understand that when a crime happens, navigating through the process can be a lot of work. Flock Safety’s team is here to support you throughout each step of the way. Just give us a call or email and we can start gathering footage from your Flock Camera.

Flock Safety Results

Flock Safety helps provide police the evidence they need in 1 to 2 crimes every day. Additionally, communities with Flock Safety see a 30-50% reduction in crime after installation.

Our growing customer base includes neighborhood Homeowner Associations, Property Management companies, city police departments, and communities.

One HOA saw their Flock Safety camera pay for itself in just one week when we helped police catch illegal dumping culprits in their neighborhood.

One Property Manager we spoke to reported that she used to spend up to three hours searching through security camera footage when a resident reported a crime. With Flock Safety taking the place of her property’s traditional camera systems, she was able to cut her previous three-hour searches down to a quick and simple three-minute search.

Automatic License Plate Readers work hard and work fast in capturing actionable evidence to help make communities safer. It’s up to you to decide which system will work best for your needs.

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