Sunday 20 May 2018

Beijing park uses face recognition software to wipe out toilet paper theft

Japanese toilet roll
Japanese toilet roll

Neil Connor

China has moved to wipe-out the theft of loo-roll by installing facial-recognition cameras in one of its busiest toilets.

People using the toilet in Tiantan Park in Beijing – one of the city’s major tourist sites – will only receive a 60 centimetre serving of paper after they have conducted a facial scan.

After meting out the loo roll, the software will deny the same person paper within nine minutes of their first scan, reports said.

Authorities acted after a growing number of visitors to public toilets in China have raided the dispensers and taken the paper back home for daily use.

“Some people still lack paper use manners,” said a report by China Radio International (CRI).

CRI cited a toilet attendant saying: “Some people take much more paper than needed and sometimes even take a whole roll away with them.

"Sometimes paper is used up in only twenty minutes.”

Toilet paper use at one of the park’s public toilets has dropped from 20 to four rolls within three days, reports said.

However, the new toilet dispensers have already drawn complaints that they don’t work.

Concerns have also made that the waiting time of 30 seconds might cause problems for those in an urgent situation.

A toilet-user told the Beijing Evening News.“If someone is in an emergency but the machine is broken and there is no one around to help, it could be very awkward and troublesome."

Meanwhile, the subject was being widely discussed on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“I can’t believe people who steal the toilet paper could be living in an apartment worth millions of yuan,” said one comment.

“I am a bit uncomfortable about being watched in such places,” said another.

CRI said a trial of the dispensers will last for about two weeks, while other reports said they will be piloted for six months.

Other parks in the Chinese capital have installed automated toilet paper dispensers. Authorities have also ran a promotional campaign to get to the bottom of toilet paper theft.

Additional reporting by Christine Wei

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