SIA New Member Profile: Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems

Leonardo team in office

New Security Industry Association (SIA) member Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems develops advanced technology products, systems and solutions in air traffic management, critical communications and license plate readers. The company is headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an additional facility in New York, and has a global footprint, delivering systems to over 25 countries.

SIA spoke with Nate Maloney, vice president of marketing and communications at Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems, about the company, the security industry and working with SIA.

Tell us the story of your company.

Leonardo team

Nate Maloney: In 2004, Italian aerospace-defense group Finmeccanica (now Leonardo) and Remington Arms started a joint venture to design, manufacturer, install and support automatic license plate recognition systems (ALPR) in the U.S. market. By 2008, the joint venture became a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica registered as ELSAG North America LLC. At that time, the company’s primary customer was law enforcement. The ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter, an ALPR system mounted to patrol vehicles, was a growing success, especially with stolen vehicle recovery. As more and more agencies adopted the use of ALPR, they began to understand the power of the systems and began installing fixed camera systems as well. Over the past decade, agencies have learned to harness the power of ALPR data beyond finding stolen vehicles to identify suspects, witnesses and victims in a variety of situations from drug and human trafficking to Amber and Silver Alerts to sophisticated robberies to homicide and more. In turn, Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems invested in making a robust data analytical tool to mine information that is useful to law enforcement but could also play a role in other security applications. Our ALPR systems are adaptable for perimeter and border security, access control and traffic management.

What solutions/services does your business offer in the security industry? And what makes your offerings or your company unique?

NM: Our primary focus in the security industry is perimeter security, border security and access control. We can help an organization deploy ALPR cameras around their facilities to identify vehicles coming and going, travel patterns and authorized and unauthorized vehicles. For example, a utility company may deploy ALPR cameras near a nuclear power facility to monitor vehicles approaching restricted areas. Our offerings are unique because we manufacture 100% of our hardware and software here in the United States. We also have the heritage of developing solutions for the high standards of law enforcement that we parlay into our security applications. 

What is something we might not know about your company – or something new you are doing in security?

NM: A fun fact about our ALPR systems is that the initial systems were developed around the same optical character recognition (OCR) used in postal sorting machines that our Italian sister company has been producing for decades. Think about how accurate those machines need to be to identify handwriting on envelopes to sort them for delivery. We have continued to refine that accuracy with each improvement of our OCR to maintain the highest industry standard in accuracy. 

What is your company’s vision, and what are your goals for the security industry?

NM: We would like to see ALPR integrated into more security solutions. The development of our VPH ALPR solution allows many standard IP cameras to become ALPR cameras. We would like to see more organizations leverage their existing camera networks into becoming ALPR cameras.

What are the biggest challenges facing your company and/or others in the security industry?

NM: Our biggest challenge is educating the industry on the difference between companies who “provide ALPR” and true ALPR companies. There are many companies that claim they do ALPR using OCR or artificial intelligence, and they very well may do, so but are they going to the additional levels of true ALPR company to understand how license plates are issued, manufactured and distributed? When working with Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems, customers not only get highly accurate hardware and software, but they get a company who works to be at the forefront of license plate development, manufacturing and policy. Our professionals work with government and industry leaders to understand, influence and ratify physical, political and public characteristics of license plates; this means serving on committees of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrations, the International Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators that influence the decision making when it comes to developing policy about how to issue plates. 

What does SIA offer that is most important to you/your company? And what do you most hope to get out of your membership with SIA?

NM: Visibility to the industry. We are well known in law enforcement circles; we want to leverage the membership with SIA to build that same reputation within the security industry.

How does your organization engage with SIA? What are your plans for involvement in the next year (e.g., events, accessing member resources)?

NM: We have engaged with SIA at various ISC exhibitions. We hope to increase participation at events and better engage members. 

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association.