OLDSMAR, Fla. - Surveillance cameras are already set up to keep an eye on people during the GOP convention next week. But now your car is being watched.
Software developed by a local company allows law enforcement to identify the owner of virtually any car that comes near the convention in an instant.
Engineer Randall Raszick demonstrated the technology in an Oldsmar parking lot that allows a police camera to identify and log license plates and automatically match them to someone who might be trouble.
The system flagged my station car as suspicious.
The company is Platesmart founded by John Chigos, who claims a local law enforcement agency he declined to name will use the system during the RNC convention.
"With a police agency having the ability to scan thousands of cars a day, it becomes a force multiplier," says Chigos.
Unlike a simple red-light camera that merely takes a picture, Platesmart-equipped cameras can log hundreds of plates and automatically run them against state and local crime databases. Or in the case of the GOP convention, it can alert to cars belonging to known agitators entered into a hot list.
The trick in license plate recognition has been to create software that can factor out all the different fonts, colors and graphics used in license plates from all fifty states, including vanity plates that might feature football team logos or manatees. Chigos markets his system to hospitals, schools, gated communities and airports.
Chigos says the system makes the dangerous job of pulling over an unknown suspect a little less dangerous, but the system is also used at airports, schools and hospitals.
Looking at a live feed from a South Florida university, the system erroneously captured a taxi cab's identification number instead of the license plate. But Raszick says the system is highly reliable in all weather, night and day.
"Our consistent accuracy is in the 90 percent range."
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