Lost your ID card? Need to pay a traffic fine? Want to collect a welfare check? A new 24-hour service is within reach with a face scan – in China. Authorities in the southern, island province of Hainan have launched facial recognition-backed public services, enabling citizens to attend to government-related matters without having to queue up for manual assistance during office hours. A total of 350 “public administrative service terminals” have been installed at local government service centres and public security bureaus, banks, drug stores and community centers in Hainan province, according to local media reports. The machines, which use face scans to authenticate a person’s identity, can handle over 150 administrative affairs, including getting a copy of a temporary ID card, settling traffic tickets and inquiring about loans from the social welfare fund, according to the reports. AI applications surge as China battles coronavirus outbreak The move comes amid wider efforts by Beijing to roll out digital infrastructure backed by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G and the internet of things, as the country aims to re-tool its economy to meet future challenges. The sprawling use of facial recognition in China now stretches from classrooms to public housing and even trash cans. Other AI technologies such as voice recognition are being used to automate traditional jobs, such as clerks in courtrooms. China has also enlisted AI to measure seismic activity for earthquake prediction and to screen newborns for genetic disorders. AI has also become the fastest expanding discipline at mainland Chinese universities, with 180 colleges approved by the country’s Ministry of Education to set up new AI-related majors for undergraduate students in 2019, compared to just 35 a year earlier. The new machines are only some of the innovative measures taken by Hainan authorities to support the construction of a free-trade zone and port in the region with streamlined public services. By the end of the year, Hainan aims to launch a 24-hour virtual service hall for over 200 government-related matters. Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.