Curitiba Transit Authority Urbs has begun to install transit card readers with facial recognition software. The equipment uses data of riders who use the "isento" pass (for elderly and people with disabilities), to help prevent fraud. Whenever there is a discrepancy between the image of the user stored in the Urbs database and the image captured by the device, the card will be blocked.
270 machines will be installed in the terminals and tube stations with the highest usage of the isento pass. The tests to install the new system began in July, with the installation of validation devices in the stations of Morretes, Carlos Dietzsch and Vital Brasil, along Avenida República Argentina, all in the downtown direction. All devices should be installed by the end of this month. In contrast to similar machines that are currently available in the market, the new facial recognition validators are compact and have a built-in camera with minor differences with the ones already installed in Curitiba.
The Curitiba isento card contains a photo of the user taken at the card's issuance. The facial recognition goes beyond recognizing style and color of hair, or the use of make up for example. It establishes a person's identity with a biometric system, which takes into account specific measures of individual characteristics.
According to estimates by Urbs made based on other cities that have installed similar systems, 20 to 25% of the isento cards (which offers free travel) get used fraudulently by other people. "I didn't know that this was going on. I think the system will be very good for security so that no one else can use my card," stated 72-year-old retiree Maria Lydia Baptista da Silva. She counts on using collective transport every day. "I do everything by bus, I go and come back without a problem." Eighty-two year old retiree Rinaldo Scheer, also approves of the new equipment. "If it helps to bring more security and avoid fraud then it is welcome," said Scheer, who also uses the bus throughout the day to get around the city. Fare collector Celson José Pasquale notes the difference: "It's much more relaxed. The validator performs the identity confirmation, which is much better."
In addition to facial recognition, the device performs many other functions, starting with credit validation. Working in a compact embedded computer, the system handles financial and fleet management, controls the online status of each route, the telemetry of each bus, advisories about emergency situations and buses that are ahead or behind schedule, information for the user about the time of the next bus arrival and departure (with the same precision as that of the metro), and integration with the traffic light priority system for transit vehicles at intersections, among others.
Isento Card Users
The public transport system in Curitiba currently has 215,134 registered isento users, who are allowed to use the Urbs bus system for free. They are people who are over 65 years old, people with disabilities and their aids, retirees due to disability, and tax and transit operators, who in total use the transport card on average 700 thousand times per month. If the categories of people entitled to use the isento cards without registering were to be expanded to include law enforcement officials, police officers, municipal guards, and students with the school pass, the number of isento trips would rise to 2.9 million per month. According to the specific legislation, the isento trips represent 14% of the cost of collective transport.
The transport card is issued by Urbs provided the user follows the conditions set by law. The information is available here. On this page you can also check the schedule and service locations. Recently, the transport card has gained another functionality: to increase the green light time for elderly and people with reduced mobility. This technology has so far been installed by the city at 13 intersections.
Moving to a Card System
Usage of the transport card exceeded the 2012 average of 50% of users to 62% in July of this year, the highest growth since the implementation of the electronic ticketing system more than a decade ago. This means that of the total paid trips taken in June, 62% were made with the transport card.
The card is the main tool in improving security in the system because it reduces the amount of cash in the buses, stations and terminals. Other benefits are its convenience, agility in passing through the payment turnstile, and the possibility to hold the card in your hand without needing to open purses and wallets inside the bus.
The facial recognition is another phase in the process of modernizing the transport card, which began in August 2014, with the creation of the single use card and the 25 locations designated by Urbs to load it.
Does your city’s transport system suffer from fraudulent use? What benefits are offered to elderly and disabled passengers? Share your thoughts and city’s stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.