Opinion

New Delhi Among Top 20 Most-Surveilled Cities in the World

In recent research conducted by Comparitech across 120 cities worldwide, New Delhi has been positioned as the 20th Most-Surveilled cities in the world. Eight out of the top 10 most-surveilled cities are in China. Chennai and Lucknow are the other two cities from India getting through top 50 (Chennai in 32nd rank and Lucknow in 40th rank).

The other Indian cities in the ranking are as follows:

  1. Pune in the 51st rank.
  2. Hyderabad in the 61st rank.
  3. Mumbai in the 82nd rank.
  4. Ahmedabad in the 86th rank.
  5. Bangalore in the 108th rank.
  6. Surat in the 110th rank.

City Wise Number of CCTV Cameras

The research paper which was published last month has revealed that in New Delhi there were 1,79,000 CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) Cameras. The research has shown that there are 9.62 CCTV cameras per 1000 people. Chinese city- Chongqing – which has been ranked as the topmost surveilled city in the world has 168.03 CCTV cameras for 1000 people. Therefore, in comparison to the Chinese cities, New Delhi is way behind.

Number of CCTV cameras in the 9 Indian cities:

  1. New Delhi: 1,79,000
  2. Chennai: 50,000
  3. Lucknow: 9,300
  4. Pune: 11,297
  5. Hyderabad: 10,000
  6. Mumbai: 9,800
  7. Ahmedabad: 3,472
  8. Bangalore: 1,301
  9. Surat: 614

Safety Index

With just 9.62 CCTV cameras for 1000 people, the safety index for New Delhi is just 41.23. Nanchang in China has the highest safety index of 91.91. With just 20.59, Fortaleza in Brazil has the lowest safety index.

Comparing all the 9 Indian cities which made entries in the ranking, Ahmedabad in Gujarat has the highest safety index of 66.89. This is followed by another city from Gujarat- Surat– with an index of 64.93. New Delhi has the lowest ranking among these 9 Indian cities in terms of safety index.

The following are the safety indices of all the 9 Indian cities:

  1. Ahmedabad: 66.89
  2. Surat: 64.93
  3. Hyderabad: 64.84
  4. Pune: 63.15
  5. Chennai: 59.61
  6. Mumbai: 58.37
  7. Lucknow: 54.61
  8. Bangalore: 54.32
  9. New Delhi: 41.23

CCTV Cameras per 1000 people

The number of CCTV cameras per 1000 people among these 9 cities are as follows:

  1. New Delhi: 9.62 CCTV cameras per 1000 people.
  2. Chennai: 4.67 CCTV cameras per 1000 people.
  3. Lucknow: 2.59 CCTV camera per 1000 people.
  4. Pune: 1.75 CCTV cameras per 1000 people.
  5. Hyderabad: 1.03 CCTV cameras per 1000 people.
  6. Mumbai: 0.49 CCTV camera per 1000 people.
  7. Ahmedabad: 0.44 CCTV camera per 1000 people.
  8. Bangalore: 0.11 CCTV camera per 1000 people.
  9. Surat: 0.09 CCTV camera per 1000 people.

With 58.77 in the Crime Index, Delhi is the worst among the 9 Indian cities. Ahmedabad, on the other hand, has the lowest crime index with 33.11.

Need of More CCTV Cameras? Or the threat of Mass-surveillance?

The pros and cons of CCTV cameras have been a big debatable question. When it comes to some of the benefits, CCTV cameras help in crime prevention and solving crimes, traffic monitoring, environment surveillance to detect violations by industries, etc. CCTVs have become cheaper and affordable. Many households, buildings, and societies have learned the necessities of installing CCTVs for their own safety. You can video live stream on your phone from remote areas too.

But the adoption of the face recognition technology has opened serious concerns among the people regarding their freedom and privacy. Most of the government machinery and law enforcement agencies across the globe have been accused of misusing the surveillance tapes.

Months back, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was accused of releasing footage of a couple having an intimate moment inside the Delhi Metro. The video was widely uploaded on all the porn sites. This is a gross violation of privacy.

Whereas, we can not also deny the fact that CCTV cameras have given leads for criminal investigations. In the most aghast Delhi gangrape 2012 incident, the Delhi Police got leads to the offenders and the bus through the footage of the CCTV camera.

The following is an excerpt from an Opinion article written by Yasmine Bahrani for The Washington Post:

There are arguably some upsides to this level of surveillance, the most obvious of which is the low level of crime. While I was a teacher in Dubai, a student from Nigeria told my class a story about how she once left her handbag on a bus stop bench. When she finally returned to the bench, she found her bag waiting for her, complete with all of her cash. No one was surprised. We all knew that Dubai is considered one of the safest places in the world. Everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere.

Yasmine Bahrani, The Washington Post

But many complaints of having been constantly watched like the Big Brother (Bigg Boss- the Indian adaption). In fact, it is like the Government is watching all the moves and drama of the people like how we watch Big Brother/ Bigg Boss on TVs.

The linking of Aadhar with your Mobile Phone Numbers was a major issue. Fortunately, it has not been made mandatory. Even though the government declined the accusation of mass surveillance, there was a possibility of carrying out such surveillance through Aadhar to detect dissidents.

Mass surveillance has become one of the major tools of the majoritarian or authoritarian government to maintain power. China, with its authoritarian government, has carried out mass surveillance. India has moved to a majoritarian government and definitely there will always be a desire to conduct mass surveillance.

Can’t Run Away from Mass-surveillance

Now the question is, with an increase in crime rate in New Delhi and other cities across the country, should we install more CCTV cameras? If we do so, will we move towards China- like- mass surveillance? The Delhi Government has even formulated a policy to install CCTV cameras in classrooms (though that is a complete another debate!).

I strongly believe that we can not run away from mass surveillance in this modern nation-state. New technologies have only created some problems. If used for safety and prevention and mitigation of crimes, there should be more CCTV camera across all the Indian cities. More cameras don’t necessarily result in people feeling safer. But, it is one step necessary to mitigate some of the problems.

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Kingson Chingakham

Personal Blog. For details please mail me at observersindia@gmail.com

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