Congrats, fName! Welcome to Watchman.

Let's get you reading license plates in three easy steps.

1. Position your camera and connect it to your network

Camera placement is the most important factor that affects your LPR accuracy and performance. If a human can’t discern the license plate characters, then software will also struggle. If the camera was properly set up, high accuracy is likely. Conversely, results may be less accurate if the camera did not clearly capture license plates.

To verify that your camera can work with an LPR system, try performing a test. Freeze a frame as a car drives past and try to read the number plates. If you cannot do this easily, the LPR system will not be successful. Even if the plate numbers are legible, the camera may not be ideally configured for LPR. Human brains are remarkably good at identifying patterns from visual imagery; however, a computer needs a clear, ideal image to perform optimally.

Check out our Camera Placement Guide for additional tips on how to best setup your camera for license plate recognition.

Once your camera is properly positioned, make sure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer you will be installing the Watchman Agent on.

DIY Software icon
2. Install the Watchman Agent on your OS

The Watchman Agent is a service that runs as a background task on your PC. The agent analyzes video streams from one or more IP cameras and finds the license plates and detailed vehicle variables for the vehicles that pass by the camera. We recommend a dedicated PC for the agent due to the amount of CPU used during processing; however, it can be installed on any machine.

Windows 10 Installation Guide

Installation on Windows is often the simplest, but does not provide the same accuracy levels as Ubuntu Linux.

  1. Download the OpenALPR Windows Installer
  2. Right click the .exe file, run as administrator, and follow the install wizard
  3. Start the “Configure OpenALPR” program after the install completes
  4. Select Watchman Cloud for Data Destination and enter the email address and password you created during sign-up

You have now successfully connected the Watchman Agent with the OpenALPR web server. All configuration and management is performed centrally on the OpenALPR web server. You may now move to step 3 to configure the agent and add video streams to monitor.

Ubuntu Linux Installation Guide

Installation on Linux requires basic knowledge of using the terminal. If you do not already have Linux installed as an operating system, please complete these steps before continuing.

  1. Download the Ubuntu 20.04 64-bit install image and copy it to a USB flash drive
  2. Follow the Ubuntu desktop installation guide

Once Ubuntu is installed:

  1. Open a new terminal
  2. Ensure you have curl installed
  3. Run the command below and choose “install_agent”
  4. Select yes/no when prompted to connect the Agent to your cloud account
sudo apt update && sudo apt install -y curl
bash <(curl -s https://deb.openalpr.com/install)# select "install_agent"

You have now successfully connected the Watchman Agent with the OpenALPR web server. All configuration and management is performed centrally on the OpenALPR web server. You may now move to step 3 to configure the agent and add video streams to monitor.

Docker Installation Guide

Installation on Linux requires basic knowledge of using the terminal. If you do not already have Linux installed as an operating system, please complete these steps before continuing.

  1. Open a new terminal
  2. Pull the latest OpenALPR Docker image
docker pull openalpr/agent
  1. Enable the license for the agent
docker run -P -v openalpr-vol1-config:/etc/openalpr/ -v openalpr-vol1-images:/var/lib/openalpr/ -it openalpr/agent openalpr-licenseregister
  1. Configure it to point to a Watchman web server (default is https://cloud.openalpr.com)
docker run -P -v openalpr-vol1-config:/etc/openalpr/ -v openalpr-vol1-images:/var/lib/openalpr/ -it openalpr/agent alprlink-register
  1. Start the container
docker run --restart always -d --cap-add SYS_NICE -P -v openalpr-vol1-config:/etc/openalpr/ -v openalpr-vol1-images:/var/lib/openalpr/ -it openalpr/agent

The Watchman agent is connected and you can move on to Step 3 to connect video streams. For more advanced use-cases, you can find the configuration and source Dockerfile on GitHub.

Axis Camera Installation Guide

Install the Watchman Agent as an app on Axis cameras and send video to the cloud for processing. You will need the following:

  • An Axis Commercial account
  • A supported Axis camera
  • An SD Card with at least 2GB storage space
  • Internet Connectivity (minimum 2Mbps upload speed)
  • Accurate date/time. We recommend configuring NTP (See Setup | Date & Time)
  • DNS Configuration (See Setup | Advanced TCP/IP Settings)
  • The latest Axis firmware (minimum is 5.60.1.1)

After checking the prerequisites, follow these steps for installation:

  • Download the latest Watchman Axis camera Agent
  • Login to your Axis Camera
  • Click Setup in the top right corner
  • Click Applications
  • Click the Choose File button and select the OpenALPR_Cloud_latest_mipsisa32r2el.eap file (downloaded above), then click the Upload Package button
  • Click OpenALPR Cloud and then Start (you will be prompted for your cloud.openalpr.com credentials)

As vehicles move past the camera, the video will be sent to OpenALPR for archiving and processing. You can view video recorded in the past 60 days using the “Video” link on the left. As license plates are detected, they will appear on your cloud account dashboard.

Remote vehicle icon
3. Connect your Camera to the Watchman Agent

There are four approaches for connecting cameras to the Watchman Agent. Regardless of which method you use, it is a good idea to first play the video stream in an external media player like VLC (click Media > Open Network Stream). This ensures the URL is correctly formatted and there are no firewall/network issues. If your stream will not play in VLC, the Watchman Agent will not be able to connect to it either.

1) Auto-Discovery via the Watchman Agent GUI
  1. Launch the Configure OpenALPR program
  2. Toggle the cameras tab on the left if it is not already active
  3. Click Add > Discover Devices
  4. Click the IP address matching your camera and you will be provided with a list of available substreams (different resolutions and/or frame rates)
  5. Choose a substream, test, and save under a unique camera name
2) Manually add URL in the Watchman Agent GUI
  1. Determine the stream URL for your camera. The format varies by manufacturer, but typically has the form rtsp://username:password@ip_address:port_number/some/unique/extension (may also start with http:// instead). The username and password portion may not be required for all cameras but typically comes with a simple factory default such as root:1234 or admin:password. For RTSP streams, the default port number is 554 while HTTP uses 80. If you do not know the /some/unique/extension portion, please review our templates for different camera manufacturers in approach 2.5, browse your camera’s configuration interface if available, or contact the camera manufacturer directly.
  2. Follow approach 1, except instead of selecting Discover Devices chose Stream URL Manual
3) Configure the agent via the OpenALPR Web Server
  1. Login to the Agent Configuration page on the OpenALPR Web Server
  2. Click the blue Configure button for the Agent you want to add the camera to
  3. Scroll to the Camera Stream Config section
  4. Select your manufacturer from the drop down list or choose Generic URL
  5. Fill out the remaining fields, test the stream, and save the camera with a unique name
4) Manually edit configuration files
  1. Follow approach 3.1 to determine your camera’s stream URL
  2. Open a blank text file in the Agent’s stream folder (located at /etc/openalpr/stream.d on Linux or C:\OpenALPR\Agent\etc\openalpr\stream.d on Windows)
  3. Add a line to the file with the following format: stream = [Camera HTTP/RTSP stream URL]
  4. Save with the file with a unique name and .conf extension (i.e. my_new_camera.conf)
  5. Restart the Agent
  • GUI: Services tab > Agent > Stop > Start
  • Linux Terminal: sudo systemctl restart openalpr-daemon
The instructions above are for basic installations with data sent to the cloud.
For more advanced and on-premise installations, please visit our detailed documentation page.