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Facial recognition system in China mistakes bus ad for jaywalker


A system deployed by the Chinese government to identify jaywalkers, reportedly using real-time facial recognition, has mistakenly identified a celebrity as an offender after scanning her face from an advertisement on the side of a passing bus, Chinese tech website Abacus reports. Famous businesswoman Dong Mingzhu, who chairs China’s largest air conditioner manufacturing company, was misidentified as a jaywalker at an intersection in Ningbo in eastern China, calling into question the technology’s accuracy and liveness detection capabilities.

City traffic police noted the mistake on Weibo, saying that the system had been upgraded to prevent a repeat of the error.

The system has been deployed to many intersections in Shenzhen for months. The systems vary between jurisdictions, with some displaying partial names and ID numbers along with the faces of identified offenders on large screens. Abacus reports that 14,000 jaywalkers have been identified at a single intersection in Shenzhen over a 10-month period, and that Ningbo said 7,800 offenders had been identified at six intersections in the city by June of this year.

Not only was Dong wrongly identified as a jaywalker, her face appeared with the surname “Ju,” suggesting that it also mistook her for another individual.

Several companies, such as Dahua, have been working to upgrade the performance of their smart city systems, as China seeks to leverage urban security networks that the New York Times has reported include 200 million surveillance cameras. CNET also reported recently that Chinese authorities have been using gait recognition for public surveillance in Beijing and Shanghai.

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