Port Tampa Bay monitors traffic with PlateSmart

Port Tampa Bay monitors traffic with PlateSmart
Port Tampa Bay is the largest maritime port in the State of Florida and the 16th largest in the United States. 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– several million tons of cargo are shipped in and out of the port in any given year–the port is also a departure point for some of the world’s best known cruise lines. Port Tampa Bay also runs and maintains its own ship repair facilities.


For planning purposes, Port Tampa Bay needs 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. When the Port Authority contacted PlateSmart, they were not able to fulfill any of these needs reliably. 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 the best solution to fill the Tampa Port Authority’s needs. ARES would improve the port’s security processes by automatically scanning and documenting the license plates of all vehicles entering the facility. This would automatically provide a complete and accurate count of vehicles entering the property. It would also provide 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 needed on vehicles entering port property would be available to them with no guesswork, and the Port would have 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 would enable 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. Future 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. Plans are also in place to install forward-facing cameras at the entrance to allow port personnel to immediately distinguish between commercial and non-commercial vehicles. The ARES solution will also enable law enforcement and the Port to share information electronically via a secure direct connection, thus streamlining their collaborative process.

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