It’s no secret that China is pushing facial recognition technology in almost all areas of public surveillance it can and now that tech is reaching the public housing domain as well.
According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing is pushing its facial recognition-enabled smart locks into full gear across all of the public housing programmes in the city, in an effort to crack down on various types of tenancy abuses like illegal subletting.
Subletting is very common in Beijing: the city has very high real estate costs with an average rent of 5000 Yuan ($730) for a flat, with the average salary for a Beijing resident is somewhere around 7000 Yuan (roughly around $1000).
Public housing, on the other hand, costs around 2000 Yuan ($200) per month, but that has not stopped the families who live in public housing units to sub-let the apartments to other families, leading up to environments where two or more families live on top of each other across a few square meters.
The smart lock system in question will try to prevent that from happening: the software is capable of recognizing tenants by the comparing facial information it gets of visitors with the one it already has stored in its database, of the actual residents. This way, it can instantly deny access to strangers.
But that’s not everything the system is capable of: it can also keep an eye on elderly residents. If they have not been out of their home after a set period of time, it will send a notification to the management to check in on the tenant in question and make sure they are alright.
The system is expected to involve a total of 120,000 Beijing tenants by June 2019.