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Hong Kong startup uses AI to estimate subway wait times and detect gas leaks

Hong Kong start-up C&R Wise AI is helping railway operators and universities to manage their crowds better, the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday.

The company’s EdgeAI system, which is known for recently being used to count the number of street protesters in the city, works through algorithms running on an industrial computer to process images of people and objects.

The technology is being deployed in the city’s subway stations to provide an estimate of passenger waiting times during peak hours, and from local gas companies to detect entries to remote sites as well as locating gas pipes in need of repair.

The EdgeAI system is now also used to count the number of students and teachers present on a specific campus to provide insights into crowd flow at the points of entrances and exits.

The news comes amidst privacy concerns of this technology being used extensively to track the identities of people during protests against the latest extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government.

However, Raymond Wong, a graduate of the University of Hong Kong and C&R Wise AI founder, tried to reassure public opinion on the issue.

“We have been very careful with the technology we deploy”, he explained, “we don’t use facial recognition, and in fact we deliberately shoot from the back and did not share any of the videos with the third party volunteers. We were merely counting for a number.”

C&R Wise AI was created in 2009 as a software development business for international brands and public organisations.

Noticing the emerging potential of artificial intelligence applications, Wong started the AI branch of its company in 2017 with the idea of using perception-based AI technology to help businesses identify people and objects.

“AI is more objective and accurate than manual counting,” he said. “The numbers merely serve as a reference to the public. We hope to train our AI to run better on smartphones and enable accurate counting through this project.”

Image via Wikipedia and Pixabay.

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