A major airport experienced vehicle theft in its parking facilities. Thus, a vehicle access management system was needed to ensure that only vehicles driven by authorised drivers that have paid their parking tickets in full could exit the premises. In addition, the system needed to operate in a fast and efficient manner to ensure that no delays occurred at the exit booms, especially during peak traffic situations. A further requirement was that a vehicle should be able to enter and exit at any of the entry and exit gates, of which there were over 60 each.
The Detecta vehicle management system was implemented and offered the following capabilities:
- Whenever a vehicle entered the parking facility, the driver was issued a parking ticket with a unique code.
- Detecta recorded the driver’s face, vehicle colour as well as the vehicle number plate into a database, linked to the issued ticket.
- Upon vehicle retrieval the driver would pay the ticket either using the pay-on-foot system or at an office. This information was sent to the Detecta system which flagged the vehicle parking event as paid in full.
- Upon arrival at the exit boom the driver would insert the parking ticket into the payment system. This event would trigger a comparison on the number plate with the payment ticket and, if paid in full, will allow the vehicle, which is matched to the ticket, to leave.
- This process ensured that a vehicle could only leave in conjunction with the parking ticket issued upon arrival.
Handling of possible problems
Several potential problems could occur, especially in the context of South Africa. These include delays due to system processing (resulting from a very large number of vehicles), no number plate, dirt on the number plate, inaccurate reading of the number plate, etc. In the case of a failure, i.e. parking ticket not paid or vehicle number plate not matching the number associated with the ticket, exit would be refused, and the driver would need to contact the control room operators. In addition to the possibility of a theft, some of the abovementioned problems could have occurred. In this case the operator was presented with a live image of the driver upon exiting which he/she could compare with the face of the driver upon entry. In addition to this the operator could compare the entry vehicle make and colour to the exiting vehicle make and colour and decide whether to allow the vehicle to leave, provided payment was made. The operator is also presented with the entry number plate image and the exit number plate image to evaluate the “no plate” or “small detection error” possibility.
The success of the system was immediately visible, and this was due to the following built-in capabilities:
- Highly accurate number plate recognition
- Very fast data turnaround due to system architecture which supported high speed analysis
- Ability to deal with small number issues such as single-digit errors
- Ability to read any number format, including foreign numbers
- Ability to integrate over 100 gates into a single system
- Tight integration with the payment system
- Very flexible and user-friendly operator control applications
- Large degree of automation for comparison of various variables to constitute a valid transaction
- Ability to manage several access management lists such as white lists and black lists, providing information to security and hospitality systems
Future developments that would be able to enhance the above, currently implemented in the latest generation of Detecta, include:
- Automatic identification of vehicle makes
- Ability to compare detected numbers with suspicious numbers provided by Police services, etc.
After commissioning this system, vehicle theft was reduced to zero and the system never resulted in delays at the exit gates, especially during peak times. The system has now been in place for over 10 years.