Transport service providers in the goods and passenger movement space are increasingly relying on cameras with artificial intelligence to ensure that their workers are wearing masks and maintaining social distance as Covid-19 spreads and several locations experience a surge in infections in the backdrop of phased unlocks.

Yolobus, an inter-city bus-service provider for distances involving 8-12 hours’ travel, uses CCTVs to detect masks, apart from spraying disinfectants frequently. “We use CCTVs in buses to track whether all the bus crew and passengers are wearing masks,” Shailesh Gupta, co-founder and CEO, Yolobus, told BusinessLine . Bus crew also check whether all passengers are sporting masks, provided for free by Yolobus, which has resumed services on half the number of routes now as against March-end. Some of its routes are newer.

Cargo-mover Spoton Logistics is installing an algorithm in its CCTV cameras at its loading and unloading locations to ensure that the workers use masks and maintain social distance. Spoton Logistics MD and CEO Abhik Mitra said that they are resorting to visual analytics and algorithm in over 300 locations as ensuring social distance becomes tough to track 24x7. Besides arming staff with sanitisers and thermometers, Spoton uses pulse oximeters at its loading and unloading sites, where the company has deployed extra workers from local areas as some of its workers from the migrant community had not returned.

Cab aggregator Uber, which uses AI globally to verify whether its drivers have masks on, relies on technology in India to verify their masks, apart from asking them to click a selfie. Also, to make both drivers and passengers safe from each other, it is putting plastic screens covering the drivers in 20,000 taxis and plastic screens in 1,00,000 autorickshaws.

Meanwhile, railway stations are installing CCTVs with features to detect temperature, mask and social distancing. Vehant Technologies, which has Indian Railways as its customer, has developed an AI-based software that captures temperature and mask using CCTVs. Vehant’s AI-cum-CCTV based software that captures temperatures, masks on a real time basis and social distancing are in use in railway stations including Raipur, Bilaspur and Guwahati, according to Kapil Bardeja, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Bardeja estimates the market for CCTVs with temperature and mask-detecting features in India to be around 10,000 locations, of which 30-35 per cent of sites are railway stations, bus terminals and airports.

Global efforts

Globally, several countries are using cameras to detect masks in public transport spaces. France, for instance, has provided AI-based software in the CCTV cameras to check whether people are using masks in metro rail stations in Paris and buses in Cannes post Covid-19. China has installed AI-based cameras in Beijing metro rail to detect masks. Some of these algorithms, which have facial recognition capacity, have also sparked privacy concerns.

The mass transit authority in New York has reached out to Apple asking it to upgrade iPhone’s AI-based facial recognition features of half masked-people to ensure that people in trains and buses do not remove their masks to unlock mobile.

Business for Indian companies in the space have improved now, since India has limited the market for products imported from China, with Hikvision — one such Chinese player — reportedly red-flagged. Fortune Business Insights, a research firm, projects the global AI-based fever camera detection market to be $1.28 billion in 2020.