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  • Kyle Chua

Beijing State-Run Transport Group Requires Bus Drivers Wear Emotion-Sensing Wristbands

Long-distance bus drivers in Beijing are reportedly being required to wear electronic, emotion-sensing wristbands while on the job.

Credit: Reuters via South China Morning Post

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the requirement was initiated by the Beijing Public Transport Holding Group to promote public safety supposedly. The state-run transport group believes that by monitoring the vital signs and emotional states of bus drivers, it'll be able to better manage the physical and mental health of drivers and hopefully prevent them from getting into accidents.


The wristbands are capable of tracking the wearer's body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, exercise, blood pressure and sleep, as well as emotional states, such as anxiety, for example. And the public transport company can access all the data the wristbands collect in real-time. About 1,800 units have already been distributed to bus drivers on cross-province and highway routes, though it's still unclear how many are required to wear them.

Guiyang bus crash. Credit: CNN

The requirement comes just weeks ahead of Communist Party’s five-yearly congress, which is set to be held in Beijing starting 16 October. Officials across the country have ordered to minimise any social risks ahead of and during the key political meeting. It also comes a mere week removed from a bus accident in Guiyang city that killed 27 people and injured 20.


While transport authorities view the new requirement as a public safety concern, some legal experts can't help but feel that it encroaches on the privacy of the drivers and can cause distress. Wang Congwei, director of cybersecurity legal affairs at the Beijing-based Jingsh Law Firm, questions whether there is really a need to collect that much personal information from the drivers. She also told SCMP that despite data being collected in real-time, it might prove difficult for authorities to intervene right then and there if anomalies were detected. The data, she adds, can only be used after the accident has happened.


This isn't the first time that authorities have required Chinese citizens to wear wristbands that track possibly sensitive information. In July, residents of a compound in Beijing were asked to similarly wear wristbands that took their temperatures while in home quarantine.

 
  • Long-distance bus drivers in Beijing are reportedly being required to wear electronic, emotion-sensing wristbands while on the job.

  • The requirement was initiated by the Beijing Public Transport Holding Group to promote public safety supposedly

  • About 1,800 wristbands have already been distributed to bus drivers on cross-province and highway routes, though it's still unclear how many are required to wear them.

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