China shames jaywalkers through facial recognition

Cities in four Chinese provinces have started using facial recognition technology to shame jaywalkers who cross the roads when the lights are red.
Cities in four Chinese provinces have started using facial recognition technology to shame jaywalkers who cross the roads when the lights are red.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese cities are cracking down on jaywalkers by installing facial recognition kits at intersections to identify and shame them by posting their photo on public screens, state media said Tuesday (June 20).

It is the latest use of the technology in China, where it has been used by fast-food chain KFC to predict orders and in public restrooms to foil toilet paper thefts.

This time, cities in four provinces are using the hardware to keep pedestrians from crossing at red lights, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The technology has detected more than 6,000 instances of people crossing red lights since it was installed in early May in Jinan, capital of eastern Shandong province.

The facial recognition equipment takes photos and a 15-second video of jaywalkers, whose images instantly appear on a screen, showing them that they've been caught, Xinhua said.

The photos are matched with images in a provincial police database.

"Within 20 minutes, the offender's photograph and personal information such as their ID number and home address are displayed on the screen at the crossroad," Xinhua said.

Traffic police give the offenders the choice between paying a US$3 fine, taking a half-hour course on traffic rules or spending 20 minutes helping a traffic officer.

Jinan traffic police department may also publish the offender's information on its Weibo social media account.

"Since the new technology has been adopted, the cases of jaywalking have been reduced from 200 to 20 each day at the major intersection of Jingshi and Shungeng roads," Jinan police officer Li Yong was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

The Xinhua report comes after a video appeared on social media earlier this month showing a woman being hit by a taxi on a crosswalk and then run over by a car. She later died.

The footage sparked outrage at the indifference of other pedestrians and drivers who did not stop to help her.