The old saying says that a picture is worth a thousand words. But it’s probably worth a lot more if the picture can be connected to a database.
That’s the thinking behind a special camera that was designed to read license plates. It was designed by G2 Tactics, an Alexandria-based company that was presented with the city’s Technology Achievement Award last week. It’s currently in use by the city’s patrol force, giving officers instant access to information on stolen cars, Amber alerts, unpaid fines and all manner of other offenses.
“I am very pleased that this is being used in Alexandria,” said Slim Manthey, president of G2 Tactics. “This is something that’s made in Alexandria and is used in Alexandria.”
The product is sold as “GLAVID” or “PlateFinder.” It uses an infrared camera to read license plates and compare them to an onboard database. The camera can read the plates whether its stationary or in motion, finding plates without an external trigger. It can cover one lane exclusively or multiple lanes at an angle in the day and at night — at residential speeds or highway speeds. G2 Tactics also makes a product known as “BootFinder,” which checks plates against a database of “boot eligible vehicles.”
“I’m honored to be here representing the company,” Manthey said after G2 Tactics was presented with the award.
THE AWARD CEREMONY at the Holiday Inn on First Street featured Aneesh Paul Chopra, the secretary of technology for Virginia. His keynote address challenged those present to use technology to solve society’s problems. He gave examples of how pioneering individuals have used new ideas to combat old problems. One prominent example was Kent Murphy, a former janitor who founded Luna Innovations.
“How do we find the next Kent Murphy?” Chopra asked. “How do we find the hidden talent buried in urban communities and in rural Virginia?”
Chopra also talked about how technological innovation could be used to help solve problems associated with traffic gridlock and health-care issues. He said that speed limits could be changed at high-traffic hours to prevent gridlock, and he advocated using electronic health records to facilitate sharing information about medical histories or prescription usage.
James Carville also spoke at the event, putting technology aside to tell a few funny stories. The Democratic political strategist joked about his marriage to a Republican, President Bush’s limited vocabulary and President Clinton’s excessive libido. He said he was proud to live in Alexandria, a city that helped raise $130,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“People ask me if I live in a suburb of Washington,” Carville said. “I say ‘No, I live in Alexandria.’”
The award presentation also included a video that was produced at the television-production studio at T.C. Williams High School. This year’s ceremony represents the tenth year that the city has given the award, and the video included archival footage of all the previous winners as well as the five finalists from this year.
IN ADDITION TO G2Tactics this year’s finalists included a wide array of different organizations: Cambridge Communication Systems, Commonwealth Academy, H2Gen Innovations and TranTech.
Denise Primdahl, a marketing specialist for TranTech, said that many jurisdictions are now requiring videotaped interrogations. That’s why her company created technology that digitally stores video and audio of videotaped interrogations, which is now being used by the Chicago Police Department.
“You don’t have to watch all three hours of a video,” she said. “You can select which part you want to watch, and this can be easily used in a courtroom.”
Susan Johnson, who operates the Commonwealth Academy, said that her school has found innovative ways to use technology in the classroom. Teachers at the Commonwealth Academy use interactive technology to meet the diverse learning styles of its students, employing a range of software applications that can be specifically tailored to the individual needs.
“We have average to extremely bright students,” she said. “But they need material to be presented in a variety of ways.”
Frank Lomax, an Alexandria native, is the founder of H2Gen Innovations. His company develops on-site hydrogen generators for industrial applications and fuel-cell vehicles. He says that this technology can be used to protect the environment.
“Hydrogen is very light, so it’s nice to have an on-site way to make it,” he said. “In the future, these technologies can be used for clean transportation.”
The finalists were: