Shenzhen deploys facial recognition technology to catch traffic offenders

Facial recognition technology is shown at the SenceTime Group booth during the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen, China, on Oct 30, 2017.
Facial recognition technology is shown at the SenceTime Group booth during the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen, China, on Oct 30, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHENZHEN (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China's southern city of Shenzhen is using facial recognition technology to identify traffic offenders and levy fines, with 40 sets of surveillance devices installed mainly at busy intersections.

The electronics police will pay special attention to people in certain industries - couriers, for example - as well as people who have had their driver's licences revoked, according to the city's traffic police.

Four types of violations - running a red light, failing to observe traffic signals, using nonmotorised vehicles on roads, and driving without a licence - will be closely monitored.

A total of 58 cases related to jaywalking and 67 cases involving nonmotorised vehicles on roads were detected on Tuesday (April 1), the first day of operations.

The violators will be notified via text message and fined depending on the severity of the violation.

The move is Shenzhen's latest push to make use of high technology in municipal governance. Earlier, the city had launched programs using facial recognition technology to regulate vehicles.

With the rapid development of facial recognition technology, Shenzhen has achieved a breakthrough in expanding traffic regulation from only vehicles to pedestrians, said Xu Wei, head of Shenzhen's traffic police.

The city plans to expand the surveillance network by adding at least 200 sets of facial recognition devices by the end of this year, he said.

Home to a number of technology companies such as Huawei, Tencent and DJI, Shenzhen has been taking efforts to integrate advanced technology into its traffic system.

In April last year, the traffic police installed a set of surveillance cameras at a key intersection, using facial recognition technology to identify jaywalkers. Photos were compared with those in a police database.

The pictures and personal information of the traffic violators were then displayed on large LED screens at the intersection.

Most people appear to embrace the move, saying it could reduce irregularities and promote social progress.

"The measure is a constraint to people who have little consciousness of traffic rules. In the long term, fewer people will violate the rules and our society will become better," said Lin Zhiwei, a 56-year-old Shenzhen resident.

But some have voiced privacy concerns over displaying offenders' personal information on a public screen.

"Displaying photos and information of offenders publicly could lead to a problem with privacy. The authorities need to attach high importance to that," another Shenzhen resident said.

Other Chinese cities are also using facial recognition technology. Last month, a suspect was arrested after being detected in a crowd of 60,000 people attending a music concert in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.