Paris Tries AI That Counts How Many People are Wearing Face Masks

“France is integrating new AI tools into security cameras in the Paris metro system to check whether passengers are wearing face masks,” reports the Verge: The software, which has already been deployed elsewhere in the country, began a three-month trial in the central Chatelet-Les Halles station of Paris this week, reports Bloomberg. [Alternate source] French startup DatakaLab, which created the program, says the goal is not to identify or punish individuals who don’t wear masks, but to generate anonymous statistical data that will help authorities anticipate future outbreaks of COVID-19… “The goal is just to publish statistics of how many people are wearing masks every day.”

The pilot is one of a number of measures cities around the world are introducing as they begin to ease lockdown measures and allow people to return to work. Although France, like the US, initially discouraged citizens from wearing masks, the country has now made them mandatory on public transport. It’s even considering introducing fines of €135 ($145) for anyone found not wearing a mask on the subway, trains, buses, or taxis….

The software is lightweight enough to work on location wherever installed, meaning no data is ever sent to the cloud or to DatakaLab’s offices. Instead, the software generates statistics about how many individuals are seen wearing masks in 15-minute intervals. The company has already integrated the software into buses in the French city of Cannes in the south of the country. It added small CPUs to existing CCTV cameras installed in buses, which process the video in real time. When the bus returns to the depot at night, it connects to Wi-Fi and sends the data on to the local transport authorities.