In the world of video surveillance, perhaps no other country stands to win the title of Big Brother more than CCTV-everywhere China. Because surveillance in China is so pervasive, especially in any public place, and where visitors to China can and will be watched and tracked literally everywhere they go, it's China we tend to look to as one of a few major markets for hints, winks, and nods into new and emerging trends in the surveillance industry.
Image: China Surveillance Cameras from technocracy.news
In summary, the greatest advances and adoption in surveillance in China were seen in the following areas:
1. Facial Recognition - From paying in shops, checking into hotels, picking out the wanted from busy crowds, and charging people with violations of the law in real time, facial recognition cameras boomed. In addition to recognizing faces, the technology is used to identify cars, read license plates, and even pick out subtle nuances to identify a vehicle by scratches, dents, and the like. Good luck escaping China unnoticed, let alone escaping within China into a busy crowd.
Image: Facial Recognition from Bing web search
2. Surveillance Camera Installation & Ownership - The Chinese government reportedly owns a 42% stake in Hikvision, and by 2020 there will be projected 626 million security cameras surveying the country. In 2017 a platform called Shuidi turned millions of surveillance cameras into live footage that anyone could view at any time, from children's classes to stores to restaurants and beyond. If a camera owner connected the camera to Shuidi then anyone could see it without consent of those being videoed. Viewers could even leave comments about the footage. This type of viewing activity actually became a popular, albeit creepy, hobby of many, which combined with the comments, led to a public outcry over privacy, and Shuidi was shut down.
Image: Shuidi screenshot of dance class in China from Bing web search
3. Missing People Found Through Surveillance - In 2017, when a person went missing a snapshot of the last known location was blasted out to cellphones as an alert around the nation, with a focus on the area where the missing person was last seen. With images, this takes our version of Amber Alerts to a new level, and in China this system has seen much better results in finding the missing.
4. Surveillance Cameras in Schools and Tech for Tracking Kids - This was a very hot topic considering that many parents work far away from their children. In one area of China, smart watches with tracking were given to 100,000 children whose parents left them behind to work in far off areas, so they can stay in touch.
Image: The Xioami Smartwatch for kids, from the Xioami website.
China could be called a surveillance state, not quite Big Brother but certainly close to it. While surveillance is not so pervasive here in the US, when we research emerging trends it helps to see what the most surveillance heavy nations are doing. Facial recognition has huge potential in the United States and is a major topic in the industry. We also find it interesting that China did experiment with unbridled access for all to any live surveillance footage connected to a social media type platform, complete with ability to comment, and that even in surveillance heavy China there was public outcry regarding privacy showing that the boundaries can only be pushed so far. Perhaps one of the most insightful areas of advancement using surveillance comes from finding missing persons by not just sending out an alert but accompanying that alert with still shots from the last surveillance captured of the missing person. That could have tremendous potential here.
As a side note, and not coming out of China, during this research we came across this interesting image called "Camouflaged Fashion" with the specific aim of achieving the "anti-face" in response to the Janus Program, with accompanying article from 2014 found by clicking here.
We do have facial recognition technology available for our customers. If this is something your business or industry is interested in, please contact us, GenX Security, regarding our 3VR Facial Recognition Technology offerings. Quotes are always free.
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