Smart Prison in China Uses AI to Monitor Inmates

You don’t want to go to prison. And you especially don’t want to go to prison in China. At one facility, odds of escaping have just dropped dramatically thanks to artificial intelligence.

Located in China’s Hebei province, Yancheng prison has recently begun using AI to help keep inmates inside prison walls. A massive network of cameras covering every inch of the prison monitors inmates’ movements and actions. Data and images are streamed in real time to a fast, AI-powered central computer. If anything abnormal is detected, prison officials will be sent an alert.

Smart Prison Features Facial Recognition Tech and Sensors

The cameras are equipped with cutting edge facial recognition tech which helps them recognize each individual inmate and monitor them 24 hours a day. Each camera is able to track up to 200 faces at one time so the AI can see what prisoners are doing even if they try to blend in a crowd or get lost in a massive brawl. Cameras are located all over the facility including in every cell.

Along with the cameras, the smart prison also features sensors such as optical fibers. These hidden sensors are capable of detecting and locating certain types of ground movements.

Smart Prison AI China Yancheng - YellRobot
credit: South China Morning Post

AI Network Generates Daily Report on Each Inmate

At the end of each day, the AI system generates a report on each inmate. The report includes a behavioral analysis and a summary of their movements. All data is archived and if anything out of the ordinary is detected, that prisoner will be flagged for further investigation.

“For instance, if an inmate has been spotted pacing up and down in a room for some time, the machine may regard the phenomenon as suspicious and suggest close-up checks with a human guard” said project representative Meng Qingbiao.

Meng also claimed that the smart prison system would know what each particular person was doing no matter how large the inmate population – and there would be no need for a human guard to constantly watch the monitors.

Smart Prison AI China Yancheng - YellRobot
credit: South China Morning Post

Yancheng Prison Has Had Issues With Corruption

The 98-acre prison holds over 1600 inmates and has a reputation for being a “luxury facility” because it features better conditions than most other prisons in China. Run directly by the Ministry of Justice, Yancheng also houses many high profile inmates some of which are quite wealthy.

The prison recently came under scrutiny after party disciplinary inspectors warned it had not properly understood “its political nature in the new era”. The inspectors also claimed frequent rules violations by some of the guards. With the new system, prison officials believe that even if the inmates are able to bribe the guards they won’t be able to escape the watchful eye of the AI.

The smart prison system was developed by a team of public research groups including surveillance tech company Tiandy and Tianjin University. Tiandy is in talks with some South American countries to introduce the smart prison system into prisons that have a history of violence and security issues.

Source: South China Morning Post

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