Homeless reconnect via facial technology
Homeless shelters in Shanghai are using facial recognition software and new media to help reunite vagrants, beggars and lost seniors with their families.
Last week, police took Wang Yongquan, 92, to a center in Huangpu district because he appeared confused and was unable to remember his address. It took workers at the shelter just 20 minutes to identify him using a facial recognition system and contact his relatives, who lived nearby.
“We used to have to search for personal information in a handwritten book and check printed photos for matches,” said Kang Qingping, a shelter worker. “Now, it’s more efficient. We send 95 percent of the people home, compared with about 80 percent before.”
The system was installed in mid-2015 and includes images of anyone who has sought help at the center within the past five years. Wang, who had visited four times before, was one of five people it identified this year.
“We have around 24,000 people stored in our facial recognition system,” Kang said. “After uploading a photo, the system will pop up the top five matches by similarity and also include the person’s information, fingerprints, history and family contacts.”