Penang launches country’s first facial recognition CCTV surveillance

The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise faces captured by CCTVs. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudiin
The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise faces captured by CCTVs. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudiin

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 2 ― Penang launched its facial recognition system for CCTVs installed on the island today, making it the first in the country to introduce the technology.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise faces captured by CCTVs installed by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

“Wanted persons can be traced using this system and this system is fully linked with the police operations room in Penang,” he said in his speech at the launch of the system at MBPP’s CCTV Operation Centre in Komtar today.

Chow hoped the new system will help the police track down wanted criminals and reduce crime rates in the state.

“Anyone who wants to commit crimes in Penang, should know that they are being watched by the CCTVs installed by MBPP and the police,” he warned.

MBPP has installed 767 CCTVs on the island, while Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) has installed 130 CCTVs on the mainland.

MBPP is in the process of installing another 150 CCTVs, and MPSP, another 94.

The existing CCTVs were upgraded with Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA) for facial recognition using technology from IBM.

MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the implementation of IVA and the upgrading of the MBPP CCTV operation centre to Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) are part of the state’s initiatives towards a smart city.

“The technology implemented in this project will be rolled out in stages over three years starting from December 2017 until 2020 which will cost RM12 million,” he said.

He said most of the CCTVs were installed in hotspots, or places with high frequency of crimes, and also at road junctions and busy main roads for traffic control and enforcement.

Yew said the IOC will collate data captured from the CCTVs and be used for monitoring and enforcement by the MBPP.

“The IVA can trace various traffic violations such as illegal parking, vehicles that used the emergency lanes, measure water level when it rains and facial recognition of people captured by the CCTV,” he said.

He said the technology can produce automatic video analysis for immediate action to be taken.

Local government, housing development and town and country planning committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo suggested that the federal government look into implementing this technology nationwide.

“We hope the federal government will implement this nationwide and assist states by subsidising the costs of installing this system,” he said.

He added that facial recognition is now used worldwide and it can be used to identify and catch criminals.

“We need to place an expert in the IOC to decipher and digest the data that we captured from the CCTVs where these data can be used to prevent a crime even before it happens,” he said.