Traffic & transportation

January 18, 2019

Terminology and Abbreviations of the ANPR industry – Part I

Capitalizing on our industry experience of over 28 years, we would like to enable readers of this article to get familiar with the terms and abbreviations used in Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

How do you find your way in the jungle of technical jargon? Each field of expertise has its own terminology. Tech companies use a specialized lingo full of abbreviations and expressions common within the industry, yet hard to grasp for non-experts. Sometimes, manufacturers require the services of a Plain Language Consultant to make their messages simpler and easier to understand. Capitalizing on our industry experience of over 28 years, we would like to enable readers of this article to get familiar with the terms and abbreviations used in Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Note that we wrote this article for those needing simple explanations of industry terms.

What is ANPR?

Automatic – or automated – number plate recognition (ANPR) has many practical applications. It included automatic toll collection, traffic law enforcement, parking lot access control, and road traffic monitoring. ANPR is also known as automatic vehicle identification, car plate recognition, and optical character recognition (OCR) for cars.

In the first part, you can find out more about photography terms used in number plate recognition. In the second part, you can read about and transportation terms used in ANPR. Finally, in the third part of the article, you will learn about UK vs US English spelling and terminology as well as how companies use product names to communicate with their business partners.

Photography Terms in Licence Plate Recognition

ANPR is based on imaging, so there’s a great deal of photography jargon, to begin with. Photography terms appear in the context of purpose-built ANPR cameras. These cameras were designed to take images that are ideal for plate recognition. Their priorities:

  • ANPR-optimized images are different from conventional photography. The photo shutter speed is of key importance. Blur-free imaging is guaranteed by incredibly fast shutter speed – to capture the plate of vehicles traveling at a speed of 150 mph or more.
shutter speed for the best ANPR results
Optimal vs too slow shutter speed imaging for ANPR
  • The integrated IR light component guarantees shadow-free and glare-free images – to eliminate overexposure and get rid of shadows.
  • Little or no distortion of characters, like slant and slope letters and numbers. Note that dedicated OCR software is capable of overcoming the slant/slope of characters captured by cameras deployed at severe angles.
  • As little distortion as possible, by careful choice of camera shutter: experts generally consider a global shutter as the best type of camera shutter when photographing moving objects. A global shutter captures the entire image frame at once.
global shutter vs rolling shutter for ANPR
Global shutter vs rolling shutter imaging for ANPR

Bright and high contrast images even in low visibility conditions thanks to large aperture, sensitive sensor, and smart illumination.


Steady operation both in bright light and in darkness, thanks to the camera’s day/night filter.

optimal vs overexposed imaging for ANPR
Optimal vs. overexposed imaging for ANPR
  • Image resolution that is ideal for plate recognition – detailed enough to show the characters in the plate, yet not too many pixels in order to facilitate fast image processing.
  • You must carefully select the frame per second to match the expected vehicle speed – this is how you can guarantee that there are at least three image frames where the vehicle plate is clearly visible.

The angle of view and focus also play a crucial part in imaging: setting up your recognition camera properly is just as important as buying a purpose-built model camera.

In the second part of the article, you can read about transportation terms in ANPR.