China's Closed Circuits
Foreign firms are helping China become the world’s largest market for security cameras.
China, the world’s most populated nation, will soon become the world’s most surveilled, besting the United States as the largest market for security cameras in 2014, according to a report from Homeland Security Research Corporation (HSRC).
China’s homeland-security and public-safety funding grew from $100 billion in 2011 to $111 billion in 2012, and will reach $159 billion by 2015. HSRC forecasts that this funding will reach $257 billion by 2020, in accordance with China’s recently published Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
The boom in surveillance expenditures partly reflects how quickly the country is growing as a commercial hub. Today, two out of three new airports built worldwide are in China, and many of these surveillance systems will be placed in these areas. The country’s public transportation system, the world’s largest, is poised to undergo a multibillion-dollar security upgrade, which will include not only cameras but also sensors to detect chemical and biological threats.
But many of the cameras will be used in public places like movie theaters and concert venues as part of China’s “Safe Cities” program, which seeks to put camera systems in more than 600 cities across the nation. For instance, in the Guangdong Province, a manufacturing center near Hong Kong, the government is constructing a million-camera surveillance system at an estimated cost of more than $6 billion. These cameras might be useful in monitoring, or possibly preempting, protests or dissident action.
“The last three decades of dramatic economic growth in China have bred social tensions, ethnic frictions, and domestic terror, leading the central government to invest whatever it takes to defend the economic-social-political fabric of the country,” said HSRC spokesman Dan Inbar.
In 2012, about 40% of China’s $111 billion public-safety investment went to various forms of what China calls “nonmilitary” domestic surveillance, which American firms are allowed to sell to China. Among active foreign players in the Chinese security market are IBM China, FLIR, GE Security Asia, Honeywell Security Group, Tyco Fire & Security, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Siemens, Bosch Security, Sony, Sikorsky, Honeywell, and EADS.
The United States currently maintains an embargo to prevent the sale of “military” or “defense” equipment to China, but homeland and public-safety products aren’t considered defense products by the U.S. State Department. HSRC and the U.S. Department of Defense argue that the way China defines “defense” excludes activity that’s military in origin. —Patrick Tucker
Sources: Dan Inbar [personal interview], Homeland Security Research, homelandsecurityresearch.com
“In Beijing, ‘Smart City’ plan brings more surveillance” by Tom Hancock, Smart Planet (CBS Interactive), www.Smartplanet.com.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.
Initial results from a selective breeding program at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany based in Cambridge in the UK, indicate the successful creation of a new super wheat.