Cisco cameras to monitor China

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Cisco cameras to monitor China
Mike Fleming, CC2.0



A Chinese city of more than 12 million, one of the nation's most populous, is deploying 500,000 CCTV cameras to crack-down on crime.

The Peaceful Chongqing project will see cameras deployed across half a million neighbourhoods and parks over some 600 square kilometres in Chongqing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cisco will supply network equipment in conjunction with other US organisations under legal provisions that allow companies to supply China with surveillance equipment.

Sources close to the deal told the Wall Street Journal that Cisco was close to sealing the deal.

The networking giant rejected that it had customised the equipment to help China track dissidents.

"Cisco does not supply equipment to China that is customised in any way to facilitate blocking of access or surveillance of users.  Equipment supplied to China is the same equipment we provide worldwide," Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler said in a blog.

"We comply with the Foreign Relations Act of 1991, also known as the Tienanmen sanctions which, among other things, block the sales of specific equipment to Chinese police agencies."

Sources told the news outlet that Hewlett-Packard had also submitted a bid for the project.

Crime fighting cameras

An Australian designer of complex and large scale CCTV surveillance networks said such cameras are effective at reducing crime.

Despite academic papers to the contrary, Stacy Kirmos, the former security lead for Ipswich City Council's Safe City Program, said CCTV systems allow police to swiftly crack down on crime.

But he said systems are only effective if police were supplied with real-time video data and use of the technology is supported by relevant agencies and legislation.

"They do reduce crime," Kirmos said. "But in many surveillance systems, operators don't think how to utilise the images back in the control room - cameras don't work own their own."

The Ipswich CCTV network had led to almost 10,000 convictions from 15,000 arrests since its establishment in 1994, and had saved the Queensland Government millions in legal costs.

Three police stations including the dispatch unit are supplied with a CCTV video feed and can request control room operators to track persons of interest.

It is also linked to the Queensland Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing board which helps to crowd controllers, recognised, exonerated.

A Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between Ipswich Council and the National ICT Australia to run a trial of facial and behaviour recognition over the CCTV network.

"There are advantages in using software to help crime prevention, if you have the image bank to feed into the system."

While it is dwarfed by the Chongqing network, and London's 750,000-strong London eye deployment, the Ipswich network could be a pilot for a Queensland-wide CCTV network.

Kirmos said it had garnered interest from CCTV operators from Britain, New York and Australian states ad law enforcement.

He said he would take on opponents to CCTV as a crime fighter tool "head on".

An ALRC report into the Federal Privacy Act found that of 295 recommendations that surveillance technologies need not be regulated in public places.

"There should be no regulation of optical surveillance in public places — where individuals could expect to be observed — but recommended that the use of optical surveillance devices to observe people who would otherwise reasonably expect to be safe from observation be prohibited."

"The ALRC recommended that there should be exceptions to the general prohibition on optical surveillance in private places, such as an exception for the use of an optical surveillance device by a person for the purpose of observing what, on reasonable grounds, appeared to be the commission of an offence, and an exception for the use of an optical surveillance device for law enforcement purposes."

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Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


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