An artificial intelligence company in China is using facial recognition technology to assist police in finding elderly people, especially those with dementia, who have been reported missing.

According to public data, about 500,000 elderly people reportedly lose their way each year, meaning that there is an average of 1,370 elderly people getting lost every day. Cases of missing persons accounted for about 1% of the total number of 110 police emergency calls received, the Paper reported.

Since more than 72% of them were reportedly mentally challenged, it requires extra effort to identify them and escort them home.

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) provider Megvii Technology Limited, commonly known as Face++, this June introduced a smart city AI system called Wisdom Community in Haidian district of Beijing, which can detect and track down elderly persons who had been reported missing by their families. The system can also send reports to carers.

The AI system by Megvii has been assisting Chinese police in missing persons cases. As early as in May 2016, officers from the Nihe Police Station of the Hefei Public Security Bureau in Lujiang County, Anhui Province, received a report of an elderly person appearing in a remote mine.

Since he was in his 70s with hearing and speech impairments, it made communication difficult. Officers took a picture of the old man and ran it on the latest identification system provided by Megvii, which produced 10 suggested results. Together with police investigation work, the old man was identified and his family picked him up.

In October 2018, another man in his 70s who had Alzheimer’s disease was sent to Changle Middle Road Police Station in Xincheng District, Xi’an. Using the Megvii’s smart city management system, the man was identified and sent home in less than an hour.