Engadget yesterday had a story about the Mobile Plate Hunter 900, a device that mounts on police cars and scans 500 to 800 license plates an hour. More details are in the Wired News story, where LA County police commander Sid Heal notes that the system is hands-off: “It doesn’t require the [officer] to do anything.” The plates are automatically checked against a database of stole cars, and the patrolling officer when the system finds a match.
“We read them coming at us. We read them going by us. We read them parked,” said Mark Windover, president of Remington-Elsag, the developer of the system.
What the article didn’t say is if this is at all related to the license plate reader system by Andrew Bucholz that I reported on in February. At the time, I noted that I was surprised that there wasn’t yet a cameraphone service that would return details about a vehicle and driver based on a picture of the license plate.
Clearly, this is real. Welcome to the world of automated, pervasive surveillance.