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PlateSmart Ups Security at Port Tampa Bay

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 22, 2014

  • Photo: PlateSmart
  • Photo: PlateSmart
  • Photo: PlateSmart Photo: PlateSmart
  • Photo: PlateSmart Photo: PlateSmart

Port Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest maritime port and the 16th largest in the United States, has elected to implement PlateSmart's ARES enterprise license plate recognition-based video analytics system.

Overseen by the Tampa Port Authority, the port handles both commercial and passenger traffic on a daily basis. In addition to being a major hub of the shipping industry with several million tons of cargo are shipped in and out of the port in any given year, the port is a departure point for several cruise lines, and also runs and maintains its own ship repair facilities.
For planning purposes, Port Tampa Bay requires the ability to track the volume of traffic entering and exiting the port and understand what times of the year see the heaviest traffic. It also needs complete documentation of each instance where a vehicle enters or exits the property for forensic purposes. 
Because Port Tampa Bay is effectively a U.S. border, the Port Authority maintains a close collaboration with local law enforcement. Port personnel need to be able to tell police whether or not a suspect vehicle has entered port property and how long it stayed there, and they also count on law enforcement to provide them with background checks on entering vehicles when necessary.
PlateSmart said the Tampa Port Authority was not able to fulfill any of these needs reliably prior to installing the camera systems. Traffic counts could only be estimated, and standard video surveillance did not provide sufficient information on each vehicle. Port personnel needed a way to keep counts and records of all vehicle traffic automatically, without having to resort to manual counts or review hours of video footage to find a little piece of forensic evidence that might help solve a crime.
PlateSmart’s ARES Enterprise Video Analytics System was determined to be able to improve the port’s security processes by automatically scanning and documenting the license plates of all vehicles entering the facility, thus automatically providing a complete and accurate count of vehicles entering the property. It also provides a complete record of each vehicle entry, complete with location, date- and time-stamp and full-color image of the plate as well as a larger image of the vehicle itself. Any information law enforcement needs on vehicles entering port property is available with no guesswork, and the port has complete documentation to provide them for background checks. Future expansions of the system would enable even more complete coverage, including the ability to know how long a vehicle remained on the premises and when it left. Also, the product architecture enables the port to implement future enhancements such as facial capture and thermal imaging capture.
PlateSmart installed five Axis megapixel IP dome cameras at each of the five incoming traffic lanes at Port Tampa Bay’s entry gate. Expansion plans include the installation of cameras at the exit gate as well, which will allow the port’s ARES software to determine how long a vehicle remains on the property. The ARES solution also enables law enforcement and the port to share information electronically via a secure direct connection, thus streamlining their collaborative process.

Taking security measures a step further, PlateSmart has customized the ARES system at the port to be able to distinguish between commercial and noncommercial vehicles. The port has also purchased an additional camera per each incoming lane to make that feature possible.

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