Answers to Our Most Commonly Asked Questions about License Plate Readers

Frequently asked questions


What is an automatic license plate reader?

Automatic license plate readers are advanced camera systems that utilize optical character recognition software to capture and convert license plate images into alphanumeric characters. The software allows the plate number to be compared to one or more databases of vehicles of interest to law enforcement. 

ALPR, also referred to as LPR or ANPR, are used worldwide to enhance public safety and assist in criminal investigations. 

Where are license plate readers located?

The short answer is they can be found where they are needed most—high crime areas, roadways that have a history of drug trafficking, school safety zones, parking lots and garages, at access points to hotels, casinos and campuses, and at border crossings. Automatic license plate readers (ALPR) are installed in fixed locations such as roadside poles, bridges, or overpasses, or they can be mobile, mounted on law enforcement or security vehicles.

What is the best type of license plate camera?

That all depends on what your agency needs from a plate reader system. Leonardo offers an entire ecosystem of plate reader technology so that your agency can find the best fit system for your specific needs and budget.

Factors to consider beyond budget are location, the number of lanes the camera needs to cover and the speed vehicles typically travel at on the roadway the LPR will be located. 

Our LPR products include IP video cameras with LPR capabilities, solar-powered roadside LPR, mobile units for patrol vehicles and stationary plate readers mounted on bridges, overpasses or gantries. We also offer a wide variety of covert LPR for missions that require discretion. 

All ELSAG plate reader cameras are powered by the same optical character recognition software, housed in units that are purpose built to withstand rigorous use and inclement weather. 

Our specialist will work with you to find the best fit solution for your specific agency. 

Can plate readers read plates at night?

With Leonardo ELSAG ALPR, the answer is yes. Our cameras are designed to read plates 24/7 as well as in inclement weather such as rain or snow. 

Who has access to the LPR data?

While some of our competitors sell their clients’ data to third parties, Leonardo does not, and will never, sell or share your data with anyone. Your data is yours alone, and it’s up to your internal team to decide who can access the LPR data. (For more on data, open up this blog post to read next.) Some agencies choose to share their data with adjoining agencies for investigative purposes but that is up to the individual agency to decide.

Do you have custom solutions for the cameras?

Yes, beyond our standard mobile and fixed cameras which are designed to be mounted on vehicles or alongside the road, we also offer a variety of covert and custom plate reader solutions. In these cases, the plate reader is concealed behind special IR emissive glass and placed in radar trailers, truck toolboxes or construction barrels. But we can also work with you to design a custom LPR solution that meets your needs. We’re always open to hearing our clients’ ideas and testing them out.

How do I get the hot list?

The lists are provided directly to your law enforcement agency from several sources, such as the FBI's National Crime Information Center; a state agency that provides support to law enforcement like a Division of Criminal Justices or DMV, for example; or municipal government offices—like a parking authority office that would provide a white list of people authorized to park or a hot list of people who should be booted or towed because they have too many parking tickets. What we provide is a service that converts your lists into a format that can be imported into the LPR system.

Are financing or grant options available?

Absolutely. Leonardo wants agencies of any size to have access to LPR technology and we are committed to giving our customers options when purchasing hardware or software. Upfront purchasing, financing over multiple years or annual subscriptions are available. We also partner with PoliceGrantsHelp to provide free grant research assistance. 

Related Products

Mobile License Plate Reader

Fixed License Plate Readers

Solar-powered License Plate Readers

Video Security Solutions

Enterprise Operations Center

Parking Enforcement

Cloud Storage Solutions

License Plate Reader Custom Solutions

ELSAG® ALPR Technology: Raising the Bar

Leonardo is absolutely committed to developing ALPR innovations, but we’re also focused on advancing our existing ecosystem of ALPR products. How do we continue to improve the most rugged, most responsive and most reliable ALPR solutions in the industry? 

We listen to the needs, challenges and suggestions of our ALPR end-users in law enforcement, parking management, security and other industries, to identify new features and solutions that will increase their productivity and further aid their missions.

Our engineers love a new challenge — from research and development to quality control to rigorous field testing. And when it all culminates into successful trial runs, we roll out the improved version to the world, to better support vehicle-related missions and safer communities everywhere. Working together raises the bar faster.

Discover how easy it is to implement and maintain an ELSAG ALPR System.

For further information about our ALPR hardware and software or for pricing, fill out this contact form and a specialist will be in touch shortly. 

Contact an ALPR specialist