Inkstone
    Mar
    26
    2018
    Mar
    26
    2018
    Jaywalkers, Shenzhen is watching you
    Jaywalkers, Shenzhen is watching you
    TECH

    Jaywalkers, Shenzhen is watching you

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    by
    Li Tao
    Li Tao
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    Most of us have done it: crossing the road when the traffic light is still red.

    In many parts of the world, jaywalking is considered a crime. Now, the southern Chinese mega city of Shenzhen is working on a new and novel way of curbing it.

    Traffic police there are developing a system to immediately identify and inform violators, according to Intellifusion, a Chinese tech company working with Shenzhen police.

    Jaywalkers will receive notifications by text message or social media.

    Facial recognition software on display in Beijing.
    Facial recognition software on display in Beijing. Photo: The Washington Post/Gilles Sabrié
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    The system will utilize artificial intelligence technology, including facial recognition and big data, Wang Jun, a director of marketing solutions at Intellifusion, told the South China Morning Post.

    “Jaywalking has always been an issue in China and could hardly be resolved through fines or ordinary photo taking,” Wang said. “But a combination of technology and psychology... will greatly reduce the amount of jaywalking and prevent them doing it repeatedly in the future.”

    It’s unclear whether offenders would be punished immediately, or only after a number of violations.

    Wang said it was possible the message might eventually include details about fines.

    Pedestrians crossing the road at a red light in Beijing.
    Pedestrians crossing the road at a red light in Beijing. Photo: Simon Song

    Major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai have been using artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to regulate traffic and identify rule breakers. The country, as a whole, is also building a powerful facial recognition system to identify each citizen within three seconds.

    Shenzhen, a city of more than 12 million people, took its crackdown on jaywalking to a new level in April 2017, when police began displaying images of jaywalkers on big screens. Some personal data, including their family names, were displayed along with their photos.

    Intellifusion said it had participated in that initiative by installing high-resolution cameras at intersections to capture images of jaywalking pedestrians.

    A man crosses the road in Shijiazhuang, in northern China's Hebei province.
    A man crosses the road in Shijiazhuang, in northern China's Hebei province. Photo: AFP/Greg Baker

    Shenzhen traffic police said in February that images of more than 10,000 jaywalking offenders had already been publicly displayed.

    It has also unveiled a “name and shame” website displaying photographs and partial names of offending pedestrians.    

    Wang said the newest initiative would not require big, expensive TV screens to be erected, helping to cut public expenditure.

    He said the program could also be incorporated into China’s future “social credit” system, which may make it difficult for jaywalkers to buy tickets for public transport or to borrow money from banks.

    Li Yi, chief fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the new system could be very effective.

    However, Shenzhen is a large city with a transient population, complicating efforts to identify offenders, said Wang of Intellifusion.

    LI TAO
    LI TAO
    Li Tao is a contributor to inkstone. Based in Shenzhen, he is a technology reporter for the South China Morning Post.

    LI TAO
    LI TAO
    Li Tao is a contributor to inkstone. Based in Shenzhen, he is a technology reporter for the South China Morning Post.

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