Beijing To Tackle Uncivilized Park-Goers with Facial Recognition

By Devin Loree, April 26, 2019

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From Beihai to Yuyuantan Park, visiting one of Beijing’s beloved spring blossom hotspots can be an uneasy and pressure-filled experience. Add to that the sheer number of tourists frequenting the city these days and you’re bound to come across some unsavory incidents. 

Improper behavior, such as damaging plants and flowers and even picking edible plants from public parks, were all commonplace in Beijing parks during the latest Tomb Sweeping Festival. Throughout the holiday period, almost 2 million people visited the 11 parks that fall under the authority of the Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks (BJMACP), as reported by Radio China International

Unsurprisingly, the park management authority was not happy with this threat to the capital’s magnificent gardens, which are a source of pride – and revenue – for the city. To crack down on uncivilized behavior in parks around Beijing, the city's park management authorities are considering establishing a public park blacklist, using AI and facial recognition technology to verify whether tourists can enter parks based on their past behavior, according to the Global Times

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Visitors flood Beiijng parks and new intelligent surveillance tools follow. Images via People's Daily.

Badly-behaved tourists are not a new phenomenon in China. In 2016, the China National Tourism Administration added 20 tourists to their own blacklist, with folks punished for “bad behavior [including] quarreling, fighting, disturbing the peace, climbing on statues and stealing scenic assets.” 

READ MORE: Facial Recognition Set Up in Beijing Dorm to Keep Female Students Safe

The use of burgeoning technology is increasing as authorities seek ways to crack down on bad behavior around the capital. Recently, Beijing implemented biometric AI for law enforcement in various areas such as education and healthcare, where it seems to have the potential to protect citizens from harassment, ticket scalpers and, well, toilet paper bandits

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Image via Netease News

The infrastructure on which the park management authority’s punishment and reward system would be based will be, of course, the city’s extensive network of surveillance cameras, though it seems the average park-goer wouldn’t necessarily be worried by these intelligent eyes. 

One strategic planning manager at a local real estate company, surnamed Chai, believes face-recognition technology won’t affect daily life too dramatically and will ultimately amount to a positive net-gain.“From the regular side of life, it is indeed changing the way we live, making life easier by merely scanning our faces and paying in a second,” she tells That’s. “From the security side, I am in favor of preventing untrustworthy acts from occurring.”

READ MORE: 8 Places to See Beijing's Spring Blossoms

It is not by chance that the city of Beijing is considering this more incisive measure to control behavior in public parks right now. Mirroring the record number of internal tourist trips recorded this year during Qing Ming, the visitors to Beijing parks increased by a staggering 75 percent year on year, according to the BJMACP. The capital’s Yuyuantan Park even struck a deal with Huawei and China Unicom to implement 5G technology to build a management and ticketing software able to handle the crowds in search of the perfect shot with the seasonal cherry blossoms, according to People's Daily

More tourists mean more infractions too. Photos of people climbing trees in bloom have made the rounds on social media under the cheeky hashtag #AuntiesInBloom (#ShuShang KaimanLeDama), and so have snaps of people collecting edible herbs from the city’s Olympic Green. Violently shaking trees has also been reported as a common practice to obtain the perfect ‘blossoms shower’ shot. 

It looks like these harsh rules might be coming at just the right time...

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Images via Netease News

READ MORE: Badly Behaved Tourists Damage Shanghai's Cherry Blossom Trees

[Cover image via Netease News]

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