Chinese police to use facial recognition technology to send jaywalkers instant fines by text

Authorities in Shenzhen city already use giant screens to name and shame pedestrians who violate road rules

Chris Baynes
Thursday 29 March 2018 20:57 BST
People wait at a road crossing in the central business district of Beijing
People wait at a road crossing in the central business district of Beijing

Traffic police in China are to begin using facial-recognition technology to identify jaywalkers and automatically issue them fines by text.

Authorities in Shenzhen already publicly name and shame people who flout the southern city’s strict road rules, using CCTV cameras equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) that can recognise offenders.

Their faces are then displayed on large screens at crossings and on a government website.

Now, the company which provides the technology is in talks with mobile phone carriers and social media firms about developing a system that notifies jaywalkers through instant messages when they are caught by the cameras, crossing the road outside of a marked pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection.

“Jaywalking has always been an issue in China and can hardly be resolved just by imposing fines or taking photos of the offenders,” Wang Jun, director of marketing solutions at Shenzhen-based AI firm Intellifusion, told the South China Morning Post.

“But a combination of technology and psychology… can greatly reduce instances of jaywalking and will prevent repeat offences."

Shenzhen began using AI-enabled cameras in April last year and had within 10 months had displayed the 13,939 jaywalking offenders in one LED scree at a busy junction in Futian district, according to police.

The system uses 7-megapixel cameras and facial-recognition technology to identity pedestrians a database. A photo of the offence, the offender’s family name, and part of their government identification number is displayed on the screen.

This month authorities also launched a website which naming and shaming jaywalkers with the same information.

While the measures are said to have reduced the number of repeat offenders, Mr Wang said the next step of issuing fines through text could eliminate the need to install costly LED screens across cities.

His company is in talks with Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo about the system.

The technology will also register the number of times someone has violated traffic rules and affect their credit rating if it reaches a set limit.

Facial-recognition software is also used to identify drivers who violate road rules in Beijing and Shanghai, while at Henan province’s Zhengzhou East rail station police officers have been equipped with smart glasses that can spot wanted criminals.

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