BEIJING--China is establishing an electronic identification system to track cars nationwide, according to records and people briefed on the matter, adding to a growing array of surveillance tools the government uses to monitor its citizens. Under the plan being rolled out July 1, a radio-frequency identification chip for vehicle tracking will be installed on cars when they are registered. Compliance will be voluntary this year but will be made mandatory for new vehicles at the start of 2019, the people said. Authorities have described the plan as a means to improve public security and to help ease worsening traffic congestion, documents show, a major concern in many Chinese cities partly because clogged roads contribute to air pollution. But such a system, implemented in the world's biggest automotive market, with sales of nearly 30 million vehicles a year, will also vastly expand China's surveillance network, experts say.
In 2013, Disney on Ice came to the 17,000-seat Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, for an afternoon of child-friendly entertainment. As hundreds of families streamed into the event, Sgt. Kyle Hoertsch was stationed outside in his cruiser, silently searching for sexual predators. Hoertsch, a 20-year-veteran in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office who serves as a commander in the department's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement task force, wasn't searching based on simple intuition. Mounted on the roof of his cruiser was an automatic license plate reader, a device that scanned hundreds of vehicles' license plates as they entered the parking lot.
Police in the US state of Delaware are poised to deploy'smart' cameras in cruisers to help authorities detect a vehicle carrying a fugitive, missing child or straying senior. The video feeds will be analyzed using artificial intelligence to identify vehicles by license plate or other features and'give an extra set of eyes' to officers on patrol, says David Hinojosa of Coban Technologies, the company providing the equipment. 'We are helping officers keep their focus on their jobs,' said Hinojosa, who touts the new technology as a'dashcam on steroids.' The program is part of a growing trend to use vision-based AI to thwart crime and improve public safety, a trend which has stirred concerns among privacy and civil liberties activists who fear the technology could lead to secret'profiling' and misuse of data. US-based startup Deep Science is using the same technology to help retail stores detect in real time if an armed robbery is in progress, by identifying guns or masked assailants.
Carlsbad is expanding its use of automated license plate readers into a system that aims to collect the registration information of every vehicle that enters the city. The $1 million Police Department project -- which will add stationary cameras at 14 key Carlsbad intersections, creating a virtual gateway at the city's borders -- was approved by the City Council last week, sparking outrage over privacy rights and government control from several residents and one council member. Four council members, however, said they're confident the information can be kept secure and that the system will increase safety for residents and police officers. They also said it may deter criminals from breaking the law in the city. "To me, $1 million is a drop in the bucket when you are trying to protect 100,000 or more people, and everyone who comes into our city every day," said Councilman Keith Blackburn, a retired police officer.