“This technology can be used for potential bus lane violations, installed on police cars or other public works vehicles, and it can enhance towing or booting applications,” says Roberts.

Say cheese!

Stealth technology resolves two issues with one camera.

License-plate recognition software has found a new host: street sweepers. Although the technology involves complicated algorithms and codes, street department managers don't need to get lost in all the high-tech talk.

In reality, it's a fairly straightforward process.

As the sweeper moves down the street, cameras mounted on the side and the top of the vehicle take two pictures: of the illegally parked vehicle and an enhanced image of the license plate itself. This information is automatically transmitted to the host company, where employees use license-plate recognition software to verify the vehicle information and to determine whether the vehicle has violated city parking regulations. The company then contacts a representative of the client city, who makes a final determination and mails violation notices.

It's the same technology used in parking enforcement management, which the host company—in this case Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS)—provides in most major cities in the U.S. Both Chicago and Washington, D.C, are already ACS clients.

The details of installation and maintenance in both cities have yet to be finalized, but Barbara Roberts, vice president of the ACS public safety solutions group, says the company usually is responsible for the program's infrastructure (including installation and maintenance of the cameras) in addition to back-office operations, which include downloading and reviewing the images to identify violations according to city code.

Violators may view the images and pay fines online through a secure Web portal that links to the city's system.