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Over 60 airports in China using facial recognition technology for security checks

Chinese state media outlet, Xinhua reported that 557 security channels at 62 airports, including Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, are using facial recognition systems for faster security checks and enhanced convenience for travellers.

Through the system, passengers can avoid check-in formalities and go directly to the security channels, where cameras capture images of their faces and scan their ID cards or passports to verify their identity.

The system, developed by the Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has been used by around 80 percent of the country's airports whose annual passenger throughput is in excess of 30 million people.

Shi Yu, head of the institute's smart security center, was quoted as saying that passenger’s face is matched to their ID photo in less than one second, while checking the validity of their credentials.

There are plans to deploy an upgraded system at an airport in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, in May, and subsequently at Yulin Airport in northwest China's Shaanxi Province in June, before being used nationwide.

Many airports around the world are exploring the use of facial recognition, including those in the USEurope, Australia and Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia in Asia.

Public sector adoption of facial recognition in China

China is racing ahead in public sector adoption of facial recognition technology. Earlier this year, news reports said that facial recognition sunglasses were being tested to scan travelers during the Lunar New Year migration in Zhengzhou. Later, there were reports that their use is being expanded.

It is being used by traffic management authorities in several Chinese cities across the provinces of Fujian, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Shandong to catch and publicly shame jaywalkers. 

Thirty-two facial recognition devices had been installed in Wuhan Railway Station to speed the process of checking tickets. China Southern Airlines became the country's first carrier to use facial recognition last year, with the technology put into use Wednesday at Jiangying Airport in Nanyang city, Henan province.

Facial recognition technology is being trialled at Beijing airport, in collaboration with Baidu, for the admission of ground crew and staff, and later verifying the identities of passengers. Beijing Normal University has installed a facial recognition security system in campus dorms. Students have to identify themselves before being granted access to residential buildings. If an intruder tries to get in, the system will trigger an alarm.

Chinese unicorn (startups with valuation of over $3 billion), SenseTime is supplying its facial recognition technology to several local governments in China.

Facial recognition is one of the key applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. In July 2017, the State Council laid out an Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy, with the aim of growing the country’s core AI industries over 1 trillion Yuan (USD 150 billion; a 100 times increase over the 2016 number), driving related industries to exceed more than 10 trillion Yuan by 2030.

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