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Railway to use face recognition technology

By Zha Minjie (Shanghai Daily)

08:09, April 16, 2012

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway plans to use a facial identification system at three key stations to help police detect and catch fugitives.

Media reports said yesterday the project's biding process will start soon. The system will be set up at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Tianjin W. Railway Station and Jinan W. Railway Station.

The equipment will be set up at security check areas in the stations, according to the China Academy of Railway Sciences.

"The quick identification system will enable the police to recognize faces via surveillance cameras and comb criminal databases on computers for the final match," authorities said.

Researchers added the technology works when people are moving and is helpful even if suspects have had cosmetic surgery.

Police said the real-name ticket purchasing system also helps them catch criminals. During the Spring Festival travel rush this year, railway police seized 375 fugitives along the rail network.

Despite the technology, police officers are still frequently seen patrolling railway stations and questioning passengers, who show their ID cards for quick identification.

In a recent hunt for a suspect who fled from southern China, police at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station used almost all team members to search the station as a train arrived. They finally caught the suspect based on two vague photos.

The police officer who made the arrest, Yuan Fang, said later that despite the differences on the two pictures he "relied on facial details like the eyebrows and ears of the suspect," who was found with two ID cards.

Still Chinese police are increasingly relying on cranial and facial identification technologies to solve crimes and catch suspects.

Airports, railway stations and transport hubs were among the first public places to introduce such technologies.

The facial recognition system was also widely used at stadiums during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, police said. The system can be used during the national college entrance exams to avoid examinees hiring someone to take the test on their behalf.

Other public places such as hospitals have also begun using the technology. They use it to identify people who frequently come to register and then sell the number to other patients.


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