Comparitech, a pro consumer portal in the field of worldwide cyber security has prepared a report which has Hyderabad at No. 16 among the top 20 surveilled cities with 29.9 cameras for every 1,000 people. Interestingly except Hyderabad and London, all other cities in the top 20 list were in China. But world’s most populated cities like Mumbai were not among the top 20. Two of India’s biggest cities Chennai and New Delhi were at 21 and 33 spots in the list of top 50 cities.
This is thanks to the massive network of the CCTV cameras covering the city, monitoring almost every move in public and also using face recognition technology. The network includes cameras installed by the police department as well as by the local communities in residential and commercial areas for their own safety. Big companies have also chipped in with their contribution as part of Corporate Social Responsibilities.
While privacy rights activists term the mushrooming of the cameras a threat to the right to privacy, police say the CCTV cameras have proved helpful in detection and solving crimes.
In fact, police officials said the number of cameras in Hyderabad were far more than the researchers of Comparitech calculated. “Population of Hyderabad and the two neighbouring commissionerates was taken as 10 million by the researchers. But the population of Hyderabad city (excluding the suburbs) was 8 million and it had 300,000 cameras. So the number of cameras per 1,000 people will be higher”, said K Srikant Reddy, deputy superintendent of the state police IT cell.
Even as more cameras continued to be installed, two more hitech initiatives of the state government were taking the electronic security system to a new level.
First was the introduction of facial recognition technology for the identification of any suspects or wanted persons. This technology was deployed at major entry points of the city, including three major railway stations and two major bus stations through which millions pass every day. This technology was also used at big gatherings, including protest demonstrations, raising heckles of the opposition parties as a threat to democracy. “The police has gone to the extent of using facial recognition technology even for petty offences,” said Srinivas Kodali, a researcher. He termed the monitoring by cameras as “dangerously dystopian”.
The second much-talked about initiative was the massive Command and Control Centre, a twin tower project being built at a cost of Rs6 billion in heart of Hyderabad.
The towers will have ultra sophisticated facilities to monitor real time situation across the state as all the CCTV cameras will be linked and integrated with this centre.
The towers, which also house the state headquarter of Telangana police was expected to be opened this year.