High tech­nol­ogy will not elim­i­nate China’s jay­walk­ers

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Yan Ming

Elec­tronic po­lice are not “RoboCops,” but rather a new video sur­veil­lance sys­tem in China that can au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect and record law­break­ing ve­hi­cles and pedes­tri­ans. As long as a car or a per­son is in the field of vi­sion of a sur­veil­lance cam­era, any vi­o­la­tion of traffic laws will be recorded and the driver can be held ac­count­able.

To avoid be­ing pun­ished, most drivers in China have be­come more law-abid­ing in re­cent years un­der these smart eyes, which have helped build bet­ter traffic or­der in Chi­nese cities. The lat­est e-po­lice sys­tem has been up­dated to cap­ture the im­ages of jay­walk­ers, who can be iden­ti­fied us­ing por­trait recog­ni­tion soft­ware.

There is one such sur­veil­lance sys­tem just a block away from my home here in Shanghai, which is cur­rently in trial op­er­a­tions. Sev­eral cam­eras are aimed at the cross­walk and a large 2-me­ter­high screen pub­licly ex­poses the jay­walk­ers.

I once stood there ob­serv­ing the sys­tem for over an hour.

I found that peo­ple who are aware of the equip­ment and care about be­ing ex­posed on a pub­lic screen tend to be­have them­selves, while those who couldn’t care less just ig­nore it and go about their jay­walk­ing.

The ques­tion be­ing raised about this new type of high tech­nol­ogy is, can jay­walk­ing re­ally be elim­i­nated by em­bar­rass­ing peo­ple? I think the ma­jor­ity of jay­walk­ers are peo­ple who en­joy tak­ing risks and act­ing self­ishly. They are not afraid of be­ing hit by a car, and they also do not care about dis­turb­ing pub­lic or­der, so why would they mind hav­ing their im­ages ap­pear on a pub­lic screen? On the con­trary, they might even like it.

Jay­walk­ing causes many traffic accidents in China. But jay­walk­ers them­selves are sel­dom caught and never se­ri­ously pun­ished. How­ever, I do think en­act­ing more se­vere pun­ish­ments will even­tu­ally change their minds about tak­ing such chances. In Ger­many, jay­walk­ers are fined and also have their credit scores af­fected, which can lead to shorter loan re­pay­ment times and higher in­sur­ance ex­penses and loan rates.

Peo­ple tend to be more law-abid­ing if there are consequences. For ve­hi­cles in Shanghai, for ex­am­ple, there is a rule that ev­ery traffic vi­o­la­tion has a cer­tain score, and if they add up to over 12 in one year your driver li­cense will be­come in­valid.

In fact, there are now fewer jay­walk­ers in Shanghai fol­low­ing years of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. But in turn, the stub­born ones who con­tinue jay­walk­ing should be more strictly pun­ished. To do this, though, rules, laws, poli­cies and pun­ish­ments should be op­ti­mized to be more hu­man­is­tic. For in­stance, what mo­ti­vates jay­walk­ers?

In Shanghai, the an­swer to this could be that pedes­tri­ans are forced to wait at some ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions for up to sev­eral min­utes, but are only al­lowed a few sec­onds to cross wide thor­ough­fares. Many peo­ple find this to be un­fair.

In Sin­ga­pore, traffic light-timers have been cal­cu­lated so that pedes­tri­ans will not have to wait too long for a red light. More­over, there are many pedes­trian bridges and un­der­ground pas­sages in Sin­ga­pore, which greatly re­duces traffic congestion while also solv­ing the jay­walk­ing prob­lem. In the UK, side­walks are specif­i­cally de­signed to pre­vent jay­walk­ing; on streets with heavy traffic there are spe­cial man­u­ally op­er­ated light-con­trol sys­tems for pedes­tri­ans.

I be­lieve that a bet­ter or­der is built by car­ing in­stead of blindly hav­ing some­thing mon­i­tor­ing and pun­ish­ing the pub­lic. With­out strict and ef­fec­tive pun­ish­ments and more hu­man­ized poli­cies, China’s e-po­lice will be lit­tle more than elec­tronic scare­crows.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this article are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Lu Ting/GT

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.