It is common in China to see a crowd of pedestrians or nonmotorized vehicles crossing a street even when the light is red. Now the authorities will know who they are.
Traffic police in Jinan, Shandong province, recently installed facial recognition equipment at street intersections to go after jaywalkers and other violators.
"When pedestrians or drivers of nonmotorized vehicles run a red light, the equipment will take four snapshots and a 15-second video," said Wei Jinghuo, director of the Jinan traffic police technology service center. "Jaywalkers can usually be identified the same day by comparing the images with those in the databases of the public security authorities.
"The technology enables us to recognize the image of each jaywalker in a crowd."
The move is part of a 100-day campaign that will start soon in the city.
Once identified, jaywalkers will be notified by the traffic police and asked to accept punishment at local traffic police branches. Jaywalkers will be subject to fines as high as 50 yuan (.20).
Those caught by police on the spot will be given a choice: half an hour of education on traffic rules or 20 minutes of volunteer work assisting police in traffic guidance.
For those who refuse to take their punishment, the police will inform employers or residential communities by letter, and their information will be published in the media.
Information on jaywalkers will also be uploaded to the traffic credit system Jinan plans to create before the end of next year. Once it's completed, jaywalkers' information will be included in personal credit archives, which will increase the cost of future violations of traffic rules.
Wei said the punishment details are still being developed, as the snapshot system has only been on trial for a month.
A number of Chinese cities－including Mianyang, Sichuan province, and Fuzhou, Fujian province－have also started using facial recognition to clamp down on jaywalkers.
In Mianyang, data captured by the facial recognition equipment are displayed on a screen next to the street.
Dong Xiaoxia, an employee of a State-owned enterprise in the energy industry in Jinan, said more time is needed to know whether or not the system works.
"It depends on whether the authorities can enforce it," Dong said. "Can the police authorities really expose jaywalkers' information in the media? How will traffic credit records influence the jaywalkers?"
Zhang Qihua, a senior student at a university in Jinan, said the campaign shows authorities' attitude toward clamping down on uncivilized behavior.
"It is a good trend. Like the crackdown on drunken driving, I think a crackdown on jaywalkers will also work," Zhang said.