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Penang launches facial recognition system to identify criminals

Penang has become the first state in Malaysia to launch a facial recognition system capable of detecting faces of criminals through CCTV cameras, in a bid to improve public safety in the state.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the technology, which uses artificial intelligence developed by IBM, would enhance the 767 CCTVs installed by the Penang City Council (MBPP).

"This technology, which is capable of detecting the faces of criminals or people wanted by the police, will be operated from the CCTV control room of the MBPP and the Penang police headquarters.

"The monitoring via CCTV is an initiative by the Penang state government to reduce crime, especially street crimes, in an effort to maintain the safety and well-being of the people," he said at the launch of the project in George Town today.

Also present were MBPP mayor Yew Tung Seang, state housing and local government, town and rural planning committee chairperson Jagdeep Singh Deo, and state police chief A Thaiveegan.

Chow said the installation of CCTVs since 2008 with the cooperation of the police involved a cost of RM46.2 million, while the current project involved an allocation of RM12 million including the installation of another 150 CCTVs, expected to be completed by May this year.

"We hope to increase the number of CCTVs installed with this face recognition technology to 3,000 units in stages, for better crime prevention, and to expand it to areas under the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP)," he said.

Meanwhile, Thaiveegan said the facial recognition technology would help increase the police's efficiency in preventing and resolving criminal cases.

He said the police would upload the image of a criminal or wanted person to the system and if it managed to track similar faces through any of MBPP's CCTVs, local authorities would alert the police immediately.

"For example, in snatch theft cases, the police may not be able to catch the criminals during the time of the incident, but through the technology, we can clearly identify the suspect and it will be easier to track him or her down," he added.

- Bernama

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