On trial with 10 taxis, the smart cameras are equipped with face detection and number-plate recognition capabilities. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Taxis in Dubai will now act as the eyes and ears of Dubai, helping authorities keep track of activities on streets while enabling civic bodies to collect data for better town-planning.

On trial with 10 taxis currently, the new system has cabs equipped with two external cameras, one each in the front and the rear, in addition to another camera inside the vehicle.

Coming in addition to the existing cameras already installed in all of Dubai’s 10,221 taxis that monitor drivers’ behaviour, the new smart cameras are designed more for monitoring activities on the street.

The taxis will have two cameras, one each in the front and the rear, designed for monitoring activities on the street.

Unveiled by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) during the ongoing 38th Gitex Technology Week, the artificial intelligence-enabled cameras are equipped with face detection and number-plate recognition capabilities.

“The number plate detection facility will help us keep track of vehicles that are on road illegally or if a car is stolen or if its registration is up for renewal etc. We can also collect data about the number of vehicles from other emirates plying on Dubai roads,” said Dr Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation.

The new cameras come in addition to existing cameras installed in 10,221 taxis that monitor drivers’ behaviour.

He said that cameras will also help authorities keep track of commercial activities on streets, type of advertisements posted along the roads, while helping reduce human resources required for inspection of commercial establishments and other facilities.

The cameras are also capable of detecting mistakes or defects on road signs and commercial signboards.

“These are intelligent cameras, supported by an AI-based software programme, which can carry out multiple tasks. Among its several tasks, the surveillance system can also be used for collecting various data about traffic congestion, or for studying usage of different roads. It can also be used to collect demographic data of various localities and neighbourhoods of Dubai,” Al Ali added.

He said the collected data can be used to determine density of people in a particular area, or the types of vehicles moving on a street and pattens of movement in an area and plan accordingly.

A dedicated team collects and analyses the data before sending it to the departments concerned to follow up on the information gathered.

“The data is collected at the end of each taxi shift and could be used by the security agencies as well as by RTA for planning,” said Al Ali.

He added that trials are currently being conducted on ten taxis and once the results are satisfactory, the next stage will see 500 taxis installed with the cameras.

“The accuracy of the cameras in detecting various objects on streets is currently 95 per cent and we will continue to work on upgrading the technology so that we have at least 99 per cent accuracy.” Al Ali said. “We will continue with the trial until we can make sure the system is perfect. Eventually when we are completely satisfied with the accuracy of the technology we will have the cameras installed in all taxis operating in Dubai,” he said.

Dubai taxis have seen several tech enhancements and safety upgrades over the last few years, including speed jammers, tailgating alerting system as well as behavioural monitoring system for drivers.