Administrators at China’s Temple of Heaven park have found a biometric solution to a particular iteration of ‘the tragedy of the commons’.
The problem was basically that park visitors were taking excessive amounts of toilet paper from the park’s restroom, evidently seeing an opportunity to get free household goods. The issue reportedly started soon after the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, started offering toilet paper – an uncommon practice among public restrooms in the country – in 2007, with most of the culprits being local residents.
Now, park authorities have installed toilet paper dispensers that use facial recognition to regulate how much toilet paper is given to each individual. A single scan will prompt the machine to produce a two-foot length of toilet paper, with the machine programmed not to dispense any more to the same person for a period of nine minutes.
The machines reportedly cost about $720 each, and authorities say they have so far reduced toilet paper consumption by 20 percent. Park staff are available to provide more toilet paper in case of emergency.
Authorities have also upgraded the toilet paper from one-ply to two-ply, reports the BBC.
March 22, 2017 – by Alex Perala