China is setting up a security system in remote areas that will enable residents to access public surveillance videos through their phones and mobiles, and act as an extra set of monitoring units. The system called Xueliang, or Sharp Eyes, is being set up in China’s rural areas where authorities feel security agencies are stretched thin, leaving many villages unmonitored.
The system allows a selected group of citizens to log in to the public surveillance system around their neighbourhood through an app, monitor the area through their TVs or mobile phones and inform local authorities about “suspicious activity”.
The Xueliang project was written into the “No. 1 central document,” a national strategy of rural vitalisation released in February, Global Times reported. The project is expected to be rolled out across China by 2020, as part of the public security surveillance network.
Authorities have dismissed concerns that the system would infringe on privacy, the report said. “Privacy is not a concern as the surveillance cameras are all installed in public places, along with obvious notices reminding people… (that they are) entering surveillance areas,” Wang Qiang, a specialist in non-military actions at the National Defence University of the People’s Liberation Army, was quoted as saying in the Global Times.
In Sichuan province alone, 14,087 villages have been connected to the Sharp Eyes project, with 41,695 surveillance cameras installed and 152,855 villagers connected to the system by the app.
The Chinese national news agency had recently reported that in some remote regions, the police-public ratio was low with five policemen handling a population of 18,000 or more. Media reports estimate that the project will open up a market of 10-100 billion yuan for China’s video surveillance industry.