- The Straits Times
Ever felt like someone was watching you? If you live in China, there’s good reason to feel that way.
According to a study by UK consumer comparison website Comparitech, Chinese cities are under the heaviest CCTV surveillance in the world, making up eight out of the top 10 most-surveilled cities globally.
At the top of the ranking released on Thursday (August 15) was Chongqing, which Comparitech said had over 2.5 million cameras for 15.3 million people. That works out to be around 168.03 cameras per 1,000 people, Comparitech said.
The other two cities at the top of the list were Shenzhen and Shanghai, which each had an estimated 159.09 cameras and 113.46 cameras per 1,000 people.
The only non-Chinese cities in the top 10 were London (6th place; 68.40 cameras per 1,000 people) and Atlanta, Georgia (10th place; 15.56 cameras per 1,000 people) in the US.
Singapore third-most surveilled outside of China
And with 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people, Singapore ranked at 11th place on the global list, making it the third-most surveilled city outside of China. Still, it’s a far cry from Beijing, which ranks ninth on the list and has 39.93 cameras for every 1,000 people.
Abu Dhabi followed closely behind Singapore with 13.77 cameras per 1,000 people, while Chicago, Illinois (13th place) and Sydney in Australia (15th place) were the fifth and sixth most-surveilled cities outside of China respectively.
In its report, Comparitech said its study of 120 cities found that the correlation between surveillance and crime and safety was weak.
“A higher number of cameras just barely correlates with a higher safety index and lower crime index. Broadly speaking, more cameras doesn’t necessarily result in people feeling safer,” it said.
China could have 2.29 billion CCTV cameras in future
While China is expected to have 626 million surveillance cameras – or one camera for every two people – in use by 2020, Comparitech said this estimation “may be a fraction of the actual number”.
It cited Shenzhen’s plans to install 16.68 million cameras, up 1,145 per cent from today. “If the whole of China increased the number of CCTV cameras by 1,145 per cent, that would mean a total of 2.29 billion cameras – just less than two cameras per person,” it said.
The country, which has a 1.386 billion-strong population, has also reportedly invested in facial recognition technology to track people’s movements and even predict crime. According to an earlier report, the system is touted as being “fast enough to scan China’s population in just one second”, and can scan the world’s population in just two seconds.
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