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Biometrics, drones and robotic guards: Inside Hong Kong’s first ‘smart prison’

Biometrics, drones and robotic guards: Inside Hong Kong’s first ‘smart prison’

Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution in Shek O, Hong Kong, is to become the city’s first smart prison in 2021, after more than 40 trials were conducted in other correctional facilities. Biometric technology in the form of smart wristbands to monitor prisoners’ heart rate and location, and a facial recognition equipped CCTV system with video analytic monitoring functions to detect any abnormal behavior will be introduced, The Standard writes.

Drones and robotic guards will be introduced to frequently patrol the prison, as well as technologies to facilitate rehabilitation, including tablets for inmates to browse electronic books, videos, and an integrated intelligent communication system to enable prisoners to communicate with their families. Inmates can also buy food and submit applications via a self-service kiosk.

The Correctional Services Department believes the smart solutions will allow prison officers to actively combat inmates’ aggressive behavior through enhanced security. Once cameras or biometric wristbands notice high-risk actions, the system will send warning signals to staff. The department further plans to launch an e-Staff Training Institute incorporating virtual reality in staff training.

“The smart prison will include a comprehensive management and analytics platform to display all information in real-time, such as the number of prisoners and inmates seeking medical treatment outside,” said Herman Hui Wai-man, chief officer responsible for the ‘Smart Prison’ protocol unit.

Commissioner of the Correctional Services Department Danny Woo Ying-ming says “the Security Bureau, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Architectural Services Department and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer strongly endorsed the concept of a smart prison. They matched us with suitable IT companies and provided financial and technical supports during trials”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor first proposed the smart prison initiative in a 2018 address.

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