When I was a kid, we used to collect "car numbers", as we used to call the car license plate numbers in those days. I would write the numbers down in my little book and compare notes with the other kids to see how many region codes we had seen and if we had seen some exotic or special region codes and numbers. It was a fun game to pass time, as we kids have plenty of it.
A few days I came across the OpenALPR project, a free software project to automatically discover and report license plates in images and video streams, and provide the "car numbers" in a machine readable format. I've been looking for such system for a while now, because I believe it is a bad idea that the automatic number plate recognition tool only is available in the hands of the powerful, and want it to be available also for the powerless to even the score when it comes to surveillance and sousveillance. I discovered the developer wanted to get the tool into Debian, and as I too wanted it to be in Debian, I volunteered to help him get it into shape to get the package uploaded into the Debian archive.
Today we finally managed to get the package into shape and uploaded it into Debian, where it currently waits in the NEW queue for review by the Debian ftpmasters.
I guess you are wondering why on earth such tool would be useful for the common folks, ie those not running a large government surveillance system? Well, I plan to put it in a computer on my bike and in my car, tracking the cars nearby and allowing me to be notified when number plates on my watch list are discovered. Another use case was suggested by a friend of mine, who wanted to set it up at his home to open the car port automatically when it discovered the plate on his car. When I mentioned it perhaps was a bit foolhardy to allow anyone capable of placing his license plate number of a piece of cardboard to open his car port, men replied that it was always unlocked anyway. I guess for such use case it make sense. I am sure there are other use cases too, for those with imagination and a vision.
If you want to build your own version of the Debian package, check out the upstream git source and symlink ./distros/debian to ./debian/ before running "debuild" to build the source. Or wait a bit until the package show up in unstable.