SHANGHAI – When Shan Junhua bought his white Tesla Model X, he knew it was a fast, beautiful car. What he didn't know is that Tesla constantly sends information about the precise location of his car to the Chinese government. China has called upon all electric vehicle manufacturers in China to make the same kind of reports -- potentially adding to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens. "I didn't know this," said Shan. "Tesla could have it, but why do they transmit it to the government? Because this is about privacy."
China is not holding back on plans to monitor its citizens. Starting on July 1st, when residents register cars, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will be attached to windshields to track the vehicles, The Wall Street Journal reports. While car owners won't be forced to add the tags immediately, all new cars will need to have them installed starting next year. Since 30 million vehicles are sold in China annually, the country will soon be able to monitor the locations of a vast swathe of cars under the project. When cars are registered, a system will log license plate numbers and the vehicle's color, the report says.
The Associated Press reports today that more than 200 EV manufacturers including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW and others transmit real time vehicle data like position, engine information and battery charge level to centers backed by the Chinese government. Dozens of data points are transferred between the manufacturers and these data centers, a practice required by law in the country. The AP says specifications published in 2016 mandate that EVs operating in the country must transmit data back to their manufacturer, some of which is then shared with local centers in China. One such center, the Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring and Research Center, can pull up information on any EV driving on Shanghai roads -- more than 222,000 vehicles. And screens show where each vehicle is in real time.
Recently, super typhoon Mangkhut ravaged Asia, holding millions of people at a standstill across Guam, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in five years, and the strongest to hit Hong Kong since 1983. Barely a week afterward, the US suffered from a natural disaster: Hurricane Florence. Natural disasters are inevitable, and while we cannot stop them altogether, technology is opening up more sophisticated and efficient ways to minimize the damage they cause. Consensus AI is a powerful ally for governments in several aspects of operations, including predicting the outcome of an impending calamity and speeding up disaster response time, ultimately ensuring fast responses during critical times.
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