Security in the UK is going from bad to worse as criminality seems to be on the uptake to a degree hardly seen before. Our streets are no longer safe as police resources have diminished over the years and criminals are having a field day, robbing shops on mopeds and getting away with it.
In China, a vast network of surveillance cameras seeking to cover every corner of public space is fast making Steven Spielberg’s futurist film Minority Report , where citizens can be identified and tracked through facial recognition technology, a reality.
The latest breakthrough involved the installation of a high resolution camera system that transmits focused images from inside underground trains in the southern city of Guangzhou. The project, thought to be the world’s first underground network, started on the city’s line in January this year and is expected to appear on more routes and in other cities. When linked to the government’s huge data base and equipped with facial recognition software, the clear images can help catch pickpockets and other criminals, according to the manager of New Front, the technology company that developed the system. The detail captured on the images is in stark contrast to typically grainy surveillance images. ‘You can clearly see the expression on every passenger,’ said a report from the city’s news website, Jinyang. com.
Guangzhou’s underground is already using facial recognition at entrances where passengers’ faces are scanned and checked against police databases for fugitives. In a trial conducted last year, facial scanning was used to identify a passenger and deduct his fare from a linked personal account. Police used the technology in the Eastern city of Qingdao to catch 25 suspects among millions of revellers at a beer festival. A total of 18 cameras at the festival’s 4 entrances scanned faces, ran the images against a police data base and flagged up suspicious ones.
China is one of the world’s leaders in facial recognition technology as the authorities seek effective ways to keep an eye on its 1.4 billion people. Critics are worried that the technology will be used to act against social activists and political dissidents. However, I believe that technology in all its forms could be used by authorities for the wrong reasons, but to curb the rise of criminal activities, something must be done. Ignoring this would eventually cause the breakdown of law and order and rob the nation of a peaceful coexistence amongst its varied inhabitants,