Extracting Text from Images using Azure OCR and Match in an Excel Sheet using Pandas


The concept revolves around enabling the police to capture a snapshot of a vehicle's license plate and quickly retrieve the corresponding information from a database. In this particular scenario, an Excel sheet serves as the database for storing and accessing the relevant details.

Every passing day sees an increasing maximization of technology. So, this concept will be there in the menu of the raising technology. While the concept of issuing fines based on license plate snapshots already exists, we are now recreating and implementing this process using Azure, taking advantage of its capabilities.

Step 1. Extract Data Using Azure OCR

To utilize Azure OCR for data extraction, the initial step involves setting up Azure Cognitive Services. This involves configuring and integrating the necessary components to leverage the OCR capabilities provided by Azure.

  1. Create an Azure Account. If you don't have one, navigate to Azure Portal.
  2. Create an instance of the Azure Cognitive Service Custom Vision.
  3. Note down the Endpoints and Subscription keys, which you can find in the left pane.
    Extracting Text from Images using Azure OCR

You can find the keys and endpoint in the left pane once you had created the Azure Computer Vision.

Step 2. Install the required libraries for Python using pip in your Python ide.

pip install azure-cognitiveservices-vision-computervision

Step 3. Import the necessary libraries for accessing Azure OCR and working with images.

import pandas as pd
from azure.cognitiveservices.vision.computervision import ComputerVisionClient
from azure.cognitiveservices.vision.computervision.models import OperationStatusCodes
from msrest.authentication import CognitiveServicesCredentials
import io
import time
import re

Step 4. Authenticate to the OCR service using the endpoint URL and subscription key.

endpoint = 'your_endpoint_url'
subscription_key = 'your_subscription_key'

credentials = CognitiveServicesCredentials(subscription_key)
client = ComputerVisionClient(endpoint, credentials)

Replace 'your_endpoint_url' and 'your_subscription_key' with your actual endpoint URL and subscription key obtained from Azure.

Step 5. Read and Extract Text from an Image.

image_path = '<path-to-image>'
with open(image_path, "rb") as image_file:
    image_data = image_file.read()

Replace 'path/to/your/image.jpg' with the actual path to the image file you want to extract text.

For best results, download a close-up image of a vehicle license plate.

Extracting Text from Images using Azure OCR

Here's an example of the image that I have downloaded from Google for extraction of the license plate.

Step 6. Perform OCR on the Image.

result = client.read_in_stream(io.BytesIO(image_data), raw=True)

Step 7. Check OCR Operation Status.

operation_id = result.headers["Operation-Location"].split("/")[-1]
while True:
    status = client.get_read_result(operation_id)
    if status.status.lower() == OperationStatusCodes.SUCCEEDED:
    elif status.status.lower() == OperationStatusCodes.FAILED:
        print("OCR processing failed.")

Here, the code checks the status of the OCR operation by repeatedly querying the operation ID until the operation is completed successfully or fails. It waits for a few seconds between each query.

Step 8. Extract Text from OCR Result.

extracted_text = ""
for read_result in status.analyze_result.read_results:
    for line in read_result.lines:
        extracted_text += " ".join([word.text for word in line.words]) + "\n"

Step 9. Extract Registration Number from Text.

registration_numbers = re.findall(
    r"[A-Z]{2}\s?\d{1,2}\s?[A-Z]{1,3}\s?\d{1,4}", extracted_text
if registration_numbers:
    registration_number = registration_numbers[0].replace(" ", "")
    print("Registration Number:", registration_number)
    print("No registration number found in the extracted text.")

Using regular expressions, this step extracts the registration number from the extracted text. If a registration number is found, it is stored in the registration_number variable. If no registration number is found, a message is printed.

After successfully extracting the data from the image using OCR, our next step is to cross-reference the obtained data with our database, which in this case, is an Excel sheet. This allows us to compare the extracted information with the existing records in the Excel database for further processing and analysis.

Step 10. Load Excel Data into a data frame.

excel_file_path = '<path-to-excel-file>'
data = pd.read_excel(excel_file_path, sheet_name='Sheet1')

Extracting Text from Images using Azure OCR

Here's an example of the Excel data that we are using for the cross-checking process.

Step 11. Check if the Registration Number is Present in Excel.

column_name = 'column_to_check'
matching_rows = data[data[column_name].str.replace(r'[^a-zA-Z0-9]', '', regex=True).str.lower().str.strip().isin([registration_number.lower().strip()])]
if matching_rows.empty:
    print("The extracted registration number is not present in the Excel file.")
    print("The extracted registration number is present in the Excel file.")

Replace 'column_to_check' with the name of the column in which you want to check for data presence.

By following these steps, you can pass the extracted data from Azure OCR to the given_data variable and check its presence in the Excel file using pandas.

Here is the sample output.

Extracting Text from Images using Azure OCR

In the next article, we will enhance this use case by incorporating Azure Communication Service to send a message to the person whose license number matches with the database. By leveraging Azure Communication Service, we can establish a seamless communication channel and efficiently notify individuals based on the results obtained from the database matching process.