Condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations have traditionally relied upon security gates as the sole means of controlling vehicular access to their communities. While a gatehouse that is staffed 24/7 may provide residents with a sense of security and grandeur, the relatively low cost, efficiency, reliability and increased capabilities associated with implementing new Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology as an alternative to traditional security gates is increasingly changing the way associations monitor their communities.

 

What is an Automated License Plate Reader?

 

ALPRs use strategically placed cameras to capture images of vehicles as they pass by. Within milliseconds, proprietary ALPR software analyzes the vehicle’s license plate storing the image in a database and documenting the precise time that the vehicle entered or exited the user’s property. ALPRs have the capability to send out automatic alerts or contact local law enforcement should a flagged license plate be detected.

 

What are the advantages of Adopting ALPR technology?

 

The cost of installing a new ALPR system is a mere fraction of the cost of installing a security gate. Unlike traditional security gates, ALPRs do not have any mechanical components that require routine maintenance, repair and replacement. The monthly license fees associated with using ALPR software is far less than the cost of employing 24/7 gate staff and the burden of employment taxes, overtime pay, vacation pay, workers compensation and unemployment claims are eliminated.

 

ALPRs provide timestamped electronic images of every vehicle that has entered or exited the user’s property. This evidence can be used to verify the validity of damage claims and can assist law enforcement agencies in connection with criminal investigations.

 

ALPRs can be used to monitor when employees and vendors are present on the user’s property which can be helpful in resolving contract and employment disputes.

 

What should community associations consider before switching to an ALPR?

 

Of paramount concern should be how an association’s residents will react to the implementation of this “Big Brother” technology. While some residents may be attuned to their every movement being collected into a third-party database, associations should expect other residents to take issue with images of their vehicles being stored in the network of internet servers that make up the cloud.

 

It’s important for associations to be keenly aware of what they are signing up when they utilize ALPR system licensed software. Some ALPR software license agreements may allow the ALPR company to sell data aggregated from capturing vehicle images to third parties.

 

Legal guidance and ALPR technology

 

An association’s trusted legal counsel can assist with the implementation of ALPR technology by:

 

  • Meeting with board members and unit owners to understand the membership’s security concerns so that tailored policies and procedures can be formulated to accomplish the association’s specific ALPR goals.
  • Appropriately updating the association’s governing documents to reflect the adoption of this new technology.
  • Assisting with the publication of informational notices and signage informing residents and guests that ALPR technology is being used on the property.
  • Creating rules for how the ALPR technology will be implemented including how data will be stored and accessed and the circumstances under which a unit owner may be provided with access to such data.
  • Reviewing ALPR vendor contracts to ensure that the data being collected is securely stored and not disseminated.
  • Providing guidance should law enforcement agencies request access to ALPR data.
  • Keeping the association aware of developing law that may affect the way this new technology can be used.

 

The privatized use of ALPR technology by community associations is a relatively new phenomenon. As usage becomes more widespread and various issues come to light, it should be expected that the courts and the legislature will create new laws restricting and governing the way this new technology may be used. Accordingly, associations board members and property managers should be judicious when implementing new technology in their community.

 

If your Association has questions regarding license plate readers in your association, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.

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