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Beijing uses face-detecting smart locks to curb public housing abuses

Beijing is speeding up the adoption of facial recognition-enabled smart locks in its public housing programmes as part of efforts to clamp down on tenancy abuse, such as illegal subletting.

The face-scanning system is expected to cover all of Beijing’s public housing projects, involving a total of 120,000 tenants, by the end of June 2019, according toThe Beijing News.

By combining facial recognition with smart locks, the Beijing authorities hope to not only improve the security of public housing communities but also prevent illegal subletting, to make sure the limited housing resources are only allocated to those in genuine need.

The move is the latest example of the use of facial recognition technology by the Chinese authorities to keep an eye on its citizens. Many Chinese cities are already relying on facial recognition cameras to catch jaywalkers. One Beijing park even installed toilet paper dispensers equipped with facial recognition functions to discourage visitors from taking too much loo roll.

The face-scanning system has already been installed in 47 public housing projects across Beijing. As many as 100,000 facial scans comprising tenants and their family members have been collected.

By comparing the facial information of visitors and the stored facial information in its database, the system can recognise its tenants and deny access to strangers, Shan Zhenyu, director of the information centre under Beijing’s Public Housing Centre, was quoted as saying to Beijing News.