JR East may provide staff with wearable cameras

East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, is considering providing station staff employees with wearable cameras as early as April to help them deal with problems involving customers quickly, it was learned Tuesday.

The company conducted a test in 2020 in which security personnel with wearable cameras patrolled shinkansen. With live images captured by the cameras viewed from a remote location, JR East concluded that the use of such cameras would be helpful in responding to unexpected events on trains while moving.

Wearable cameras were used on trains during last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics, according to the company.

In fiscal 2020, which ended in March 2021, there were 439 cases of customers using violence against workers of railway companies across the country, according to the transport ministry.

The figure was down by 172 from fiscal 2019. But an official of the ministry said that the fiscal 2020 tally was “still high considering the fact that the number of train users fell in the year due to the novel coronavirus crisis.”

JR East will decide specifics later, such as the time of day when wearable cameras are going to be used and at which stations they would be used, sources familiar with the matter said.

Challenges are expected to include the advisability of putting customers under surveillance constantly and how long recorded images should be preserved.

“We will consider (the issues) in light of the personal information protection law,” a JR East official said.

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