Shenzhen AI start-up Intellifusion helps city police identify jaywalkers and banned drivers

  • May 8, 2019
  • Tech

Li Tao
From South China Morning Post

In the first 10 months after installation of the equipment, as many as 13,930 jaywalking offenders were named and shamed

The Chinese city of Shenzhen is home to hundreds of thousands of vehicles, so it needs stringent regulations to control the heavy flow of traffic through its streets. But with 12 million residents, enforcing those rules is not easy.

Shenzhen’s police have an invisible helping hand, however, courtesy of local firm Intellifusion, which uses proprietary high-definition cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to catch traffic rules violators, whether they are driving or on foot.

For two years now, Intellivision’s system has been quickly matching car number plates and pedestrians’ faces with information stored in the police system – and displaying the names and faces of jaywalkers on nearby LED screens to shame them into complying.

The current system features a network of cameras, each with a 7 million-pixel resolution, Wang Jun, the company’s director of marketing solutions, told the South China Morning Post in March last year.

In the 10 months after the system’s debut, as many as 13,930 jaywalkers were displayed on the LED screen at one busy intersection in Futian district, according to Shenzhen traffic police.

Intellifusion also plans to team up with the country’s technology giants, such as Tencent, and telecommunications network operators to introduce a system where jaywalkers are notified of their transgressions via instant messaging through smartphone apps such as WeChat – as well as being fined, Wang said in the interview.

However, that notification system has not yet been put into operation in Shenzhen.

China is poised to overtake Britain as the world’s most monitored society, with nearly 200 million public and private surveillance cameras across the country, especially in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Shenzhen police can now identify drivers using facial recognition surveillance cameras

Local governments have also invested heavily to expand the coverage of surveillance cameras to improve public security. One eastern Chinese city in Jiangsu province even boasted that security cameras would “cover everything, with no blind spots”.

Combined spending on smart cities in Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul is expected to exceed US$4 billion this year, according to research firm IDC. China will account for most the technology-related spending, with most of the investment in fixed visual surveillance equipment.

As successful as Intellifusion’s naming-and-shaming trials have been, its technology has been used for more than just catching jaywalkers.

In April 2018, Shenzhen police launched a system that spots cars that are violating traffic rules and captures photos of both the drivers and their number plates.

The system can identify the driver by looking at faces in a police database, and from there confirm whether they have had their licences revoked for previous offences.

Similar technology is also being used on the 55-kilometre (34-mile) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea crossing, which puts the three cities within an hour’s drive of each other.

China tests facial recognition at border crossing of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Supported by Intellifusion’s technology, authorities are testing high-resolution cameras, fingerprint matching and thermal scanning on one immigration lane at border control in Zhuhai to speed up customs clearance. Founded in 2014, Intellifusion quickly made a name for itself as a provider of facial recognition technology to Shenzhen’s police.

In January 2016, the company was chosen by the public security bureau of Shenzhen’s Longgang district to take the lead in a project aimed at identifying anyone in a crowd of a million people within one second, according to the firm’s website.

In September of the same year, Intellifusion provided portrait recognition security services for the G20 summit hosted by the government of Hangzhou, capital of eastern China’s Zhejiang province.

The Chinese company has exported its technologies to Malaysia, according to Chen Ning, co-founder and chief executive, in an interview with The Beijing News in 2017.

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Chen added that the firm will promote its AI system to countries with extreme terrorist threats, especially those in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Intellifusion, which has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, became Huawei Technologies’ global strategic partner in March last year, with the aim to “expand global artificial intelligence and smart city business” with the world’s largest telecoms equipment provider, according to the company’s website.

Intellifusion declined to comment or provide more information on its current business activities.