How to Install a License Plate Recognition System in a Gated Countryside Community in 3 Steps
Some time ago, we launched a license plate recognition module that allows for detecting vehicles. Our customers use this system for a variety of tasks: control and automation of entering and exiting gated parking lots in residential complexes and business centers, traffic monitoring on city streets to automate the deployment of specialized equipment (for example, for snow removal), and video analytics.
At the same time, our employees watched the implementation of the license plate recognition system and began to apply it in their daily life. One of our colleagues, Max, spent almost all the quarantine in a secured community of dacha cottages used mainly as second homes out in the countryside, regularly making trips to the shops by car. At the entrance to the village-like community, there is a barrier, which is opened with a magnetic key card. This system has always caused inconveniences for the residents of the village. The card was periodically lost, forgotten, it would break, or be passed on to third parties, which made it difficult or impossible to enter and leave the village.
Eventually, Max decided to save himself and his neighbors from these troubles and implemented a license plate recognition system to automate the opening of the barrier. The system implementation process took only a couple of weeks. Let's take a look at what this process consisted of.
Step 1 - Equipment Installation
The first stage of the system implementation was the installation of cameras with Flussonic Agent to automatically connect them to the cloud server. In order to set up a communication channel, a modem was installed, which provided a stable Internet connection at 10 Mbps. Each of the two cameras generated about 1 Mbps of traffic.
Step 2 - Connecting to the Сloud Service
As a cloud server, we provided the colleague with access to our VSAAS.IO platform, where possible, including our license plate recognition service. The convenience of the platform lies in the fact that its user does not need to purchase and install any special equipment in order to use video analytics. In addition, on the platform, Max stores archived video from installed CCTV cameras for when needed by the village chairman or residents.
Step 3 - Creating a White List of Numbers and Setting up the Barrier Control
The cameras were connected, license plate recognition service initiated, and the next step was to create a white list of the vehicles and turn on the automated control of the barrier.
Our system is able to send recognition events to an external URL. Each recognition event was sent to the local server URL in the form of a RaspberryPI installed in the security house in the village.
Max created a simple application, which he deployed on the server in the village. The application consisted of a simple database and a web interface. All the occurred events with car numbers were displayed in the interface. From these events, it was possible to take the recognized numbers and add them to the white list, indicating there the full name of the car owner and the house number. You can also add the license plate manually, without waiting for its preliminary recognition.
There was only the final touch left - to give the command to open and close the barrier.
Initially, the barrier was controlled by the access control system, which has an input for a “dry contact” for connecting the enter and exit buttons. We needed to send a signal to the controller input to automatically open the gates for the vehicles whose recognized license plates were on a white list.
This required a relay “dry contact”. A USB relay with a simple operating principle was purchased from an online store: the device connects to RaspberryPI, receives an HTTP command over the network, and closes the output relay. The command was sent by a server installed in the village, where the application with a white list was running. The relay closed the input of the controller of the barrier, and the barrier opened in front of the arriving car.
So, the license plate recognition system was successfully launched, and now all residents of the village enter its territory without using a key card. Now Max plans to improve the system created with his own hands - in particular, to make it so that by the time the car approaches the barrier, it is already open.
Our license plate recognition system is available to any user - you can try it too by leaving a request for a free trial:
Graphic Plans in Flussonic Watcher, or How to Navigate Video Feeds When You Have a Lot of Cameras
Video surveillance is now becoming a very popular service. Many subscribers get this service from their Internet providers, renting cameras, placing them at their facilities, and getting access to the video stream. Small and medium businesses are one of the main subscribers of cloud video surveillance services today. And in many ways, it is their needs that tell us what a video surveillance service should be.
The interface of the video surveillance service itself is very important. It should be intuitive and user-friendly. This is especially important for those subscribers who have dozens of cameras installed at several locations.
Today, I want to tell you about the approaches to placing camera images in our Flussonic Watcher.
Let’s begin with a chain of small coffee shops, whose branches are located throughout the city. If the coffee shops follow the common interior style, then all branches would appear to look the same on camera. Each of them has video surveillance cameras to monitor the barista-cashier area and the sitting area in the cafe.
Let’s imagine that this coffee shop has ten branches. The manager enters the personal account of the video surveillance service with a simple task - to find out what is happening at a given point located at a given address. A couple of dozen approximately identical images from cameras open in front of them, in which it would be very problematic to quickly navigate. In a situation like this, it is very convenient to place cameras on a graphic map with a background from Google Maps or OpenStreet Maps. You could then find the desired point in the cafe by name, connect to the camera, and quickly find out what is happening there.
Now let’s think about warehouses. Each of them would have several dozen cameras. The camera views would be almost identical due to the fact that all cameras look at similar shelves with goods. Several cameras would be directed at the loading and unloading gate. If we use the same approach as the previous example, all cameras would be represented by a point on a graphical world map. This is not very convenient. Using a regular mosaic display of the camera feeds wouldn’t be very convenient as it would be very difficult to navigate the location of each camera. So, a better way to manage the many cameras and video feeds is needed.
To solve these problems, Watcher provides special floor plans that are also used by architects and designer’s software. There are camera icons on a map of the building, and when you click on them, windows with that camera’s video feed open.
Many CCTV cameras installed in warehouses are monitored by a security service to prevent theft, as well as to monitor the activities of the warehouse workers. Having in hand a plan of the premises with the designation of cameras and with the video feeds displayed, you can instantly orient a warehouse employee or security guard on the location of the intruder or any other situation requiring attention.
National Retail Chain
Now let’s imagine we have a chain of stores that are located throughout the country. The number of cameras would grow significantly, along with this, the complexity of placing them on maps would also increase.
We can combine the ability to place objects on a world map from the small retailers’ example with the placement of the layout of individual rooms from the warehouse example. Then, if we want to see the cameras of a particular store, we just click on the map. Additionally, you can open its layout, which contains cameras available for viewing.
Residential Complex With Several Buildings
Let’s use several multi-story residential buildings that are part of a fashionable and modern residential complex as our final example. In these complexes, residents would have access to cameras located in the courtyard area, playgrounds, parking lots, and on floors in common areas of the home property.
It would be good to place some of the cameras on the master plan of the residential complex, and some on the layouts of individual floors. We have provided this function for our users. By opening a map with camera icons on it, residents can easily find their building. By opening the map, they get access to the master plan for the entire residential complex premises. On this camera map, residents will see all of the areas of the complex (parking lots, shops, playgrounds) and camera icons. Then, by clicking on an icon, they can start watching the video online. When a resident wants to see what is happening behind the vestibule door on their floor, they can select the layer on the map corresponding to the floor. Then the layout of this floor opens, on which all available cameras are marked, and the footage can be viewed.
Thus, we have provided our customers with the necessary and user-friendly tools for convenient access to a large number of cameras. We have taken into account the interests of owners of small retails scattered across the city streets along with the interests of global corporations with several multi-story real estate properties in different parts of the world.
See how our graphic plans work by signing up for a trial access plan
What is Included in the Subscriber Video Surveillance Service: the Story of OBIT
Today we want to tell you about how we helped the integrator operator OBIT launch a subscriber video surveillance service based on the developments that the operator already had and enhanced them with our turnkey Flussonic solution.
What is Included in the Service
The OBIT video surveillance service was launched into commercial operation about a year ago. Prior to this, the company was offering one-time video surveillance connections at the request of customers.
“Over time, these requests became more and more frequent, so we came up with the idea of creating a full-featured cloud service, including remote control over the business and secure storage of data on our server hardware. This corresponds to the vector of the company’s development towards expanding the portfolio of services with cloud services”,
comments Mikhail Telegin, head of the development department of OBIT.
OBIT offered its subscribers a comprehensive solution that is completely ready for use. These solutions include:
- delivery of a video stream from the subscriber’s cameras over a secure network without overloading the internet connection;
- remote storage of data in a reliable OBIT data center of Tier III class, which frees the service subscriber from the costs of purchasing, maintaining and upgrading their own equipment;
- monitoring the video stream in real time, excluding the possibility of technical failures or hacking;
- the ability to control a business from anywhere with Internet access or from any device through a personal account.
How the Service is Implemented
To implement the service, a cluster solution is used, which assumes the presence of a Flussonic Watcher control server and a number of streamers responsible for recording and distributing the archive to users. In addition to the web interface, subscribers have access to the service through a free mobile application.
Payment for the Video Surveillance service is made in the form of a subscription fee, which depends on the depth of video storage (7, 14, or 30 days), according to the postpaid payment system per month. This model does not require deep integration with billing. If the subscriber’s payment is delayed for some reason, access to cameras may be limited.
Who Uses the Service
Video surveillance is designed for a wide range of organizations - from small businesses to large federal companies with geographically distributed facilities, and solves a number of business problems:
- employee discipline management;
- control over the quality of customer service;
- monitoring of key events at facilities;
- prevention of theft;
- monitoring hard-to-reach and dangerous areas.
“The Video Surveillance service is in high demand among small and medium-sized businesses. More than 60% of connections were implemented in the retail and HoReCa industry. Here, video surveillance allows you to control the quality of staff work, captures controversial situations, and helps prevent fraud and theft. The remaining 40% of our subscribers are represented by companies operating in the areas of construction and real estate, finance and banking, IT, tourism and recreation”,
Mikhail Telegin, head of the development department of OBIT.
OBIT selects individual solutions for the task demands of each specific business. If the company does not have video surveillance, then the operator performs a set of works from scratch: audit of premises, project plan, selection, installation, and configuration of IP cameras, transmission, and cloud storage of video data. If the customer already has cameras installed and working, the operator ensures the transportation of the video stream over its own data transmission network to the server, secure remote storage of video in its own data center, and access to the personal account.
How We Helped Launch the Service
To implement the video surveillance service, OBIT uses the Flussonic Watcher software package, which includes a full set of components from server software to mobile applications and firmware for cameras.
Many telecom operators also use cameras with our Flussonic Agent firmware preinstalled on them, which allows them to add cameras to the operator’s billing and assign their address in the network to each subscriber. OBIT works according to a different scheme: an intermediate switch is connected to the routers, to which cameras are connected and receive a static IP address in the OBIT address space, where the Watcher server is located.
In the process of launching the service, we provided OBIT with operational technical support, answered questions, and offered ideas. For example, when launching the service, there were minor technical difficulties with the removal of old archives, which prevented the automation of the connection and monitoring process. With the help of timely recommendations and prompt software fixes, it was possible to quickly solve this problem.
“It took about two months to launch the product, including the necessary installation, automation, testing, and employee training. Today we continue to actively develop this service. In the near future - the creation of a high-quality video analytics service based on the existing solution”,
Mikhail Telegin, head of the development department of OBIT.
We, in turn, plan to continue helping telecom operators wishing to expand their portfolio of services with the video surveillance
service. Thanks to our cooperation with OBIT, the process of launching the service was easily worked out and optimized to ensure maximum performance, stability, and value.
How Our Billing System Integrates with Flussonic Watcher
We already talked about how we created our own billing system for our video surveillance cloud. Customers who choose our billing, and not their own as part of the provision of video surveillance services, are often interested in how the integration between Flussonic Watcher and billing system is carried out and what is implemented within it. In this article, we will describe how these two systems integrate with each other and provide examples.
One of the key questions that we answered during the development process is what functionality should be available to the user in the billing system? We have identified that all monetary issues should take place in billing. In Flussonic Watcher itself, issues related directly to cameras should be resolved. Based on this statement, we agreed on a clear architecture plan, which involves two-way data exchange between billing and Watcher (which occurs through our open API).
Creating a Subscription
Earlier we explained, that the subscription is calculated from the settings that are called “services” in our billing system. A service can be, for example, the duration of a continuous archive recording, event recording of an archive, the ability to enable video analytics. Each service has its own cost.
Billing receives the camera settings from Watcher, and then the administrator creates a subscription from these services. For example, “7 days of continuous recording with an additional 7 days of recording by events and the option of face recognition analytics”. Subscription conditions stay in the billing system, and the Watcher receives a combination of settings, which are uploaded to the camera when applying this subscription(preset).
Creating a User
The billing administrator has the ability to create a new user and grant them certain access rights. These rights are duplicated in both systems so the user can log in to Watcher and billing with the same login and password.
Creating an Organization
Organizations in billing and Watcher are logical entities, which is understood as a personal account of a subscriber. Initially, it was designed in order to make a hierarchy possible in the billing system, where there are one parent organization and several subsidiaries. Similar to the user section, the list of organizations is duplicated in both Watcher and billing. At the time of the creation of the organization, an administrator is attached, who will be responsible for the settlements.
The important thing is that you can create an organization only in billing, you cannot do this directly in Watcher. This is due precisely to the fact that all monetary transactions should be related to billing, and the creation of the organization implies the possibility for the subscriber to connect cameras for which they must pay. In addition, when creating an organization, a list of available subscriptions is indicated in billing.
Adding a Camera
The procedure for adding a camera occurs in Watcher. Information about the added camera and the subscription applied to it is added to the Access log (list of system events) of Watcher. At the same time, the billing administrator does not have direct access to the user’s cameras and video from them - this information is protected and available only to the user. Only the number of cameras sorted by subscriptions and the total cost of using the service for the reporting period are available to the administrator.
Creating an Invoice for Payment
The billing performs a number of requests to Watcher in order to obtain statistical information about the number of connected cameras to the subscriber’s organization and the information necessary to generate an invoice according to the set subscription.
So, that’s a quick introduction to how our billing integration with Flussonic Watcher works. The whole integration process took about three months. It was a long and challenging journey, and now we are ready to share our experience with our customers.