New Crosswalk Signals, More Surveillance in Shanghai

I’ve noticed these new crosswalk signal “posts” going up all around Shanghai. At first glance, they seem to be a user-friendly upgrade, highly visible with all those lights, and clearer. (All the jaywalking was going on before because people couldn’t see the tiny red guy, right? Sure…)

Crosswalk Surveillance
Crosswalk Surveillance
Crosswalk Surveillance
Crosswalk Surveillance
Crosswalk Surveillance

The thing is, when you look closer, you notice to things:

  1. There’s a space at the top of each post housing three video cameras: one facing the street, and one facing either side.
  2. There’s a street-facing screen which currently doesn’t have much on it, but kind of looks like a Windows desktop.

Combine these facts with the AI-powered facial recognition craze that’s sweeping Shanghai, as well as the fact that video cameras in Shanghai can already identify and auto-fine automobiles in real time, and it becomes pretty obvious what’s coming: these crosswalk posts are going to start identifying any jaywalking citizens and fining them automatically. (The little blue and white notice in the bottom photo also says as much.)

As for the under-utilized screen? Possibly it will be used to display photos of offending jaywalkers. (When you get auto-fined on Shanghai’s elevated highways, an LED text screen immediately displays your license plate number, notifying you that you’ve been fined.)

Of course, these crosswalk signal posts won’t do much to stop people from traipsing across streets at other locations, and what happens when people start wearing masks, or wrapping their jackets around their heads specifically to confound the technology at these intersections? Unclear.

It’s a brave new world for Shanghai crosswalks…

Nov. 5, 2018 Update: The Crosswalk Posts Have Eyes

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Joe Adderal Says: October 31, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    You think these are just for jay-walking? China’s in the business of knowing where each of their citizens are at every moment of the day. Research their ‘smart city’ technology, face tracking, etc…

    • No, but it’s a somewhat rare public display of what the tech can do. Normally all we see are the cameras, and not the results that can be achieved (except for the automated ticketing thing on the elevated highways).

  2. […] a few days after my last blog post about New Crosswalk Signals, More Surveillance in Shanghai, one of my friends spotted one of the new crosswalk displays doing its […]

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