Using facial recognition surveillance cameras, Shenzhen police can now identify drivers

Shenzhen is expanding a network of facial recognition surveillance cameras to catch more violations, after the success of an earlier trial to publicly name and shame jaywalkers.
The so-called electronic police system captures photos of vehicles that violate the traffic rules in the metropolis of 12 million people, providing an image of not only the number plate but also the driver’s face, which can then be identified from the police database using facial recognition technology. A total of 40 roads will be covered under the expanded surveillance, from the initial single intersection, to identify and fine traffic violators, including those driving without a valid license.

Images of drivers who had their licenses revoked due to illegal conduct such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs have already been captured and identified through the system, according to the Shenzhen Traffic Police’s official Sina Weibo account. The system, which went on trial first, was officially launched on May 1.

The move is the latest in a push by Chinese cities and securities agencies to employ advanced artificial intelligence-based technologies in policing. Earlier this month a fugitive was arrested in southeast China after facial recognition technology helped identify him in a crowd of about 50,000 attending a pop concert. The country is also exporting such technology, with start-up Yitu Technology selling its body mounted cameras equipped with facial recognition software to the Malaysian police.

Shenzhen traffic police first installed roadside speed cameras 1997 and in 2001 added surveillance systems to capture and identify car number plates. Starting in April last year, the city began displaying photos of jaywalkers on large LED screens at major intersections, using facial recognition technology to identify them from a police database. As well as the photo, the offender’s family name and part of their government identification number are also shown on the LED screens located above the pavement.