City using AI tech to stop bridge suicides
Seoul has begun using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to prevent suicide attempts on Han River bridges. The “smart” cameras are being taught to detect suspicious behavior and swiftly alert the authorities.
Han River and its 28 bridges are notorious for being the site of 486 suicide attempts on average, annually, with South Korea having one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
The new cameras “use deep learning AI to detect and forecast hazardous situations,” according to a statement released by the Seoul Institute of Technology and city’s Fire & Disaster Headquarters when the plan was announced earlier this year.
Through watching videos of people who attempted suicide on the bridges, the AI has learned “the pattern of those likely to jump off.”
It watches for those who linger too long or display other unusual movements. After suspicious behavior is detected, CCTV cameras send the footage to a control center, which in turn orders a rescue team to check the bridge, while rescue boats can also be deployed.
“The most important thing in rescuing people who are trying to commit suicide is that they must be stopped before they’re in the water,” a spokesperson for the Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters told The Korea Times. He added that once the person is in the water, “the survival rate drops below 50%.”
“This system allows rapid responses to suicide attempts – both before or after an incident – and minimizes surveillance loopholes,” the statement said.
In early December, the emergency services announced that a control tower had been set up to manage hundreds of “smart” CCTV cameras. The system will be regularly updated during a trial period until May, 2022.