2m spy cameras in Guangdong by 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2012, 12:00am


Guangdong plans to spend more than 12 billion yuan (HK$14.7 billion) to almost double the number of digital surveillance cameras to 2 million in an effort to curb crime and better manage the migrant population.

Police said the hi-tech cameras could recognise faces and vehicle licence plates, analyse the flow of people and identify unusual gatherings in the province.

Security supervisors will analyse the personal data captured by the cameras around the clock and shared with city governments by the end of this year.

The widespread sharing of this information across the province is expected to start by 2014.

Authorities said personal data from the surveillance system could be combined with information from identity cards to ensure that criminal activity is detected.

However, rights activists have criticised the use of cameras and data-analysis systems as an invasion of privacy and civil rights, despite the claims of authorities that more than 74,000 suspects had been arrested in the past four years.

Officials also said 100,000 criminal cases had been solved in that time, with the help of 1.1 million surveillance cameras.

The Southern Metropolis News said Guangdong authorities were installing cameras at the fastest rate since it launched camera surveillance systems in 2005.

Guangdong spent six years installing the 1.1 million cameras now in use, but it plans to double that number within just three years.

The newspaper reported yesterday that 96,000 cameras, costing between 40,000 and 60,000 yuan each, 'will be directly controlled by the police to ensure that main roads and key public venues are all closely monitored, while the remaining 864,000 cameras, costing 10,000 to 20,000 yuan each, will be installed at major state-owned enterprises, less busy streets and public venues'.

The report said the total bill could reach 12.3 billion yuan.

Footage from the cameras would be constantly monitored and analysed by a special team of police-appointed security supervisors, the Guangdong-based New Express said.

A further 2,750 high-definition camera clusters will be installed along the borders of Guangdong cities and counties, to monitor the movement of people's cars.

'A vehicle that either enters or leaves the province will be photographed and identified by smart cameras at least twice at the province's border,' the New Express said. The faces of drivers and passengers will be identified by the hi-tech cameras.

Teng Biao , a legal expert with the China University of Political Science and Law, criticised the move, saying it would be an invasion of the public's privacy, as a lack of proper supervision could result in personal data being abused.

'The public doesn't have the right to monitor how all this personal data will be used, and it's very likely that the data could be abused,' he said.

'[That's because] one of the most important purposes of such a smart surveillance system is to crack down on social unrest triggered by petitioners and dissidents.'

Guangdong has installed many more surveillance cameras than other mainland cities, and more than 110,000 of the province's 1.1 million surveillance cameras are directly controlled by the police.

More than 660 of the mainland's 676 cities use surveillance systems, according to official statistics.