Jaywalking in China: Facial Recognition Surveillance Will Soon Fine Citizens Via Text Message

Authorities in Shenzhen, China, have set up artificial intelligence-powered CCTV cameras to scan the faces of those who jaywalk at major intersections and display their identities on large LED screens for all to see.

If that isn’t punishment enough, plans are now in place to link the current system with cellular technology, so offenders will also be sent a text message with a fine as soon as they are caught crossing the road against traffic lights.

Intellifusion, a Shenzhen-based AI company, is working with local cell phone carriers and social media platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo, to develop the technology, South China Morning Post reported.

RTS1JOE1 SenseTime surveillance software identifying details about people and vehicles runs as a demonstration at the company's office in Beijing, China, October 11, 2017. Authorities in Shenzhen are planning on using facial recognition surveillance alongside cellular technology to identify jaywalkers and instantly text them their fines. Reuters

“Jaywalking has always been an issue in China,” Wang Jun, the company’s director of marketing solutions, said. “[It] can hardly be resolved just by imposing fines or taking photos of the offenders. But a combination of technology and psychology… can greatly reduce instances of jaywalking and will prevent repeat offences.”

In April 2017, Shenzhen traffic police introduced the facial recognition technology and LED screens to shame and deter jaywalkers. The 7 million-pixel cameras capture images of people illegally crossing the road. The facial recognition software then identifies the citizen against a database and displays their photo alongside their family name and some of their government identification number on the screen.

Last month, Shenzhen traffic police said they identified over 13,930 offenders at one busy intersection in the 10 months since the screen was installed.

The surveillance technology has deterred repeat offenders and the next step, sending text message fines, may eradicate the large costs involved with installing the screens, according to Wang.

Other main Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are also currently utilizing AI and facial recognition surveillance to capture drivers who violate road rules. Authorities at Zhengzhou East railway station, in Henan province, were also equipped with real-time facial-recognition sunglasses to instantly locate criminals in crowds during the busy Chinese New Year period.

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