Singapore is number 11 when it comes to surveillance, but it has nothing on China

Chongqing was listed as the city with the world's heaviest CCTV surveillance, with Comparitech reporting that the Chinese city had over 2.5 million cameras for 15.3 million people, second and third place also went to Chinese cities—Shenzhen and Shanghai

The concept of privacy takes on a whole new meaning when you consider how much you are actually being watched—by CCTV cameras everywhere. In a study on cities with the heaviest surveillance in the world, Singapore came out in 11th place, but it’s got nothing on China, who dominated the top 10 list with eight Chinese cities.

China tops most-surveilled cities list

If you think surveillance in Singapore is excessive, think again. UK consumer comparison website Comparitech undertook a global study involving 120 cities to determine which cities are under the most surveillance, and China hit a home run, snagging eight out of the top 10 spots in the world.

No surprise there, with China’s social credit system underway, set to be fully in place by 2020. The Big-Brother-is-watching-you system will survey citizens and “score” them based on their actions, choices and performance in life and work.

People’s social credit standing will then determine what they can and can’t do, and what they can and can’t have access to—such as whether they can enter certain establishments or use certain modes of transportation.

China has also reportedly invested in facial recognition technology that will track people’s movements and even predict crime.

The top 10

The global ranking, entitled “The world’s most-surveilled cities”, was released on Thursday, August 15.

Chongqing was listed as the city with the world’s heaviest CCTV surveillance, with Comparitech reporting that the Chinese city had over 2.5 million cameras for 15.3 million people, which came out to 168.03 cameras per 1,000 people.

The second and third places were also Chinese cities—Shenzhen and Shanghai. Shenzhen had an estimated 159.09 cameras per 1,000 people, and Shanghai had around 113.46 cameras per 1,000 people.

China’s captial, Beijing, ranks ninth on the list and has 39.93 cameras for every 1,000 people.

The rest of the top 10 was made up of Chinese cities, save for two—London came in 6th place, with 68.40 cameras per 1,000 people, and Atlanta, Georgia in the US snagged the 10th place, with 15.56 cameras per 1,000 people.

Singapore in 11th place worldwide

Comparitech’s study showed Singapore as the 11th most-surveilled city in the world, with 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people.

After China’s near-monopoly of the top ten, London, Atlanta and Singapore are next three most-watched cities globally.

After Singapore, Abu Dhabi followed 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-watched cities outside of China respectively.

The study marked New Delhi as the 20th most-surveilled city in the world.

Chart: The 20 most-surveilled cities in the world/Comparitech

Surveillance and safety 

In its study of the surveillance of 120 cities, Comparitech found that there was no real correlation between more surveillance and the crime and safety rates of each city, noting that “broadly speaking, more cameras doesn’t necessarily result in people feeling safer”.

China plans to ramp up surveillance 

More surveillance is in the works for China, which is expected to have 626 million surveillance cameras set-up and in use by 2020. Comparitech noted that the estimation “may be a fraction of the actual number”.

That comes out to one camera for every two people in China’s 1.386 billion-strong population.

The city of Shenzhen is planning to install an additional 16.68 million cameras by 2020, a number that is up 1,145 percent from current rates.

“If the whole of China increased the number of CCTV cameras by 1,145 percent, that would mean a total of 2.29 billion cameras—just less than two cameras per person,” said the study. -/TISG