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India embraces facial recognition for smart city, railways

India embraces facial recognition for smart city, railways
 

NEC Corporation India has launched the latest smart city project in Tirupati, India, on behalf of Tirupati Smart City Corporation Limited, in one of two projects expanding the use of facial recognition in the country.

NEC India will spearhead the implementation of information and communications technology (ICT) including facial recognition throughout the city, including establishing a City Operations Center (COC) in Tirupati, according to a company announcement. The ICT systems, which include integrated services and a unified command and control center, will facilitate real-time data collection and analysis and improve two-way communications. This digitalization effort will help to provide more efficient responses to issues related to safety, security, healthcare and environmental concerns, the company says. Furthermore, a city network infrastructure and on-premises data center will provide a data-backed decision-making process for the city.

On the traffic front, NEC India is also introducing an intelligent traffic management system. This system seeks to streamline traffic flow, including during rush hours, and reduce traffic accidents.

To elevate municipal service quality, NEC India will also support Tirupati authorities to deliver municipal services through systems across key areas. These areas include facial recognition systems, intelligent video management systems, and the integration of feeds from both existing and proposed CCTV cameras across the city.

To assist in the smooth governance of the city, NEC India will also introduce smart water technology, environmental sensors and advanced public address systems.

Beyond efficiency, there are plans to improve the aesthetics of the city. Digital billboards and variable message sign boards will be implemented in select city areas. Moreover, a city collaboration platform will be developed to enhance civic engagement to provide visitors and residents with important local information through a web portal and mobile phones.

Smt D. Haritha. I.A.S., managing director at Tirupati Smart City Corporation Limited, commented on the collaboration, “Tirupati is home to one of the most sought-after pilgrimage destinations in the country, attracting up to 80,000 visitors each day, according to official reports. Managing this kind of footfall while ensuring the highest order of comfort, efficiency, and safety for all is a mission-critical task. Given NEC Corporation’s depth of experience and proof of concept in developing smart cities all over the world, and particularly in India, we are confident that in time, Tirupati will become a destination that extends beyond the realm of pilgrimage, and the elevated experience of visiting the city is sure to encourage visitors to stay longer.”

More railways install facial recognition system amid surveillance concerns

In a move aimed at increasing passenger safety, the Railways Department is working on installing a facial recognition system (FRS) at all major stations of the East Central Railway (ECR), according to a report by Times of India (TOI).

The railways plan to install a facial recognition system (FRS) based on artificial intelligence technology at all the major train stations. The move aims to enhance security by linking it to a database of crimes committed in and around railway station premises.

According to East Central Railway (ECR) Chief Public Relations Officer Birendra Kumar, the railways intend to provide a state-of-the-art security system on par with airports at all the major stations. Kumar added that the FRS will prove a boon to curbing criminal activities on station premises.

The railways have identified at least 200 stations due for a complete security overhaul, a few of which are in the ECR jurisdiction, including the highly trafficked Patna station.

“Security measures like provision of FRS, luggage scanners, sniffers and random luggage checks are the needs of [the] hours at a time when threats from terrorists, Maoist outfits, harassment of women passengers and habitual offenders are looming large at most of the stations in Bihar and Jharkhand,” a senior Railway Protection Force officer said.

Despite the benefits ECR anticipates from facial recognition technology, its use causes concern among some groups. A Medianama report argues that unchecked facial recognition technology, especially when linked to crime databases, risks potential mass profiling and unwarranted surveillance. Sarasvati NT, the article’s author, underscores the potential pitfalls, noting the looming dangers of technological bias and potential discrimination.

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