Osaka train station set for large face-recognition study

Two-year tracking study aimed at improving safety, group says.

Japan's Osaka Station could become another focal point in the global battle over personal privacy protection as a Japanese research center prepares for a long-term face-recognition study there.

The independent research group National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) plans to begin the experiment in April to study crowd movements in order to better plan for emergency procedures during disasters.

The train station is western Japan's busiest, with an average of 413,000 passengers boarding trains there every day. Over a million people use it and neighboring Umeda Station daily.

NICT will deploy cameras in Osaka Station and the adjacent Osaka Station City, a multipurpose complex, that can track faces as they move around the premises. The cameras will be separate from any security cameras that are already installed by operator West Japan Railway (JR West), a spokesman for the railway said.

"The purpose of the study is to determine whether or not sensor data on crowd movements can be used to validate the safety measures of emergency exits for when a disaster strikes," a NICT spokesperson said.

JR West referred all questions about the protection of passenger privacy to NICT, but the research institute said the experiment was still being prepared.

"At this time, we are considering the technology to be used to obtain statistics on crowd flows," the NICT spokesman said. "Depending on the technique used, the data that can be obtained on pedestrian flows will be different. So, it's difficult to say how many people could be subject (to the experiment)."

NICT would not elaborate on technical aspects of the study, but it said previously that it is slated to run for two years and will involve about 90 cameras and 50 servers.

It said the facial-recognition system can track dozens of points on a face. It emphasized that the data cannot be used to identify people and it will abide by Japan's Personal Information Protection Law when handling it.

The NICT spokesperson said the institute is not aware of any similar large-scale study.

A report in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said computers linked to the cameras will run face-recognition algorithms and assign IDs to faces, which will be tracked for a week.

The dozens of cameras would be able to track the movements of people the algorithms recognize, and record whether they go to a coffee shop or through a ticket gate, for instance.

The technology under consideration for the study can identify faces with an accuracy of 99.99 percent, according to the report.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)securityprivacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?